TRENTON – An Elizabeth man pleaded guilty Friday for his role in a $2 million stolen prescription drug scheme, Attorney General Anne Milgram and Division of Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni announced.
According to Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Riza Dagli, Pedro Diaz, 79, of Elizabeth, pleaded guilty to second-degree fencing and second-degree conspiracy before Superior Court Judge Peter V. Ryan in Essex County. The charges were contained in a state grand jury indictment returned on July 27, 2007.
Ryan scheduled sentencing for Jan. 29, 2010, at which time the state will recommend a sentence of four years in state prison.
In pleading guilty, Diaz admitted that he and Aiad Saman, 54, of Staten Island, NY, supplied stolen prescriptions to Charles Jyamfi, 55, a licensed pharmacist who ran his now-defunct pharmacy, Ojah Pharmacy in East Orange, in exchange for cash payments. Diaz admitted that he knew Jyamfi was selling and dispensing these prescriptions to the public. Diaz further admitted that he profited from the illegal transactions.
Saman and Jyamfi were both charged in the state grand jury indictment. Saman pleaded guilty on June 5, 2008 to conspiracy and perjury, and was sentenced on Aug. 25, 2008 to five years in state prison.
Jyamfi was charged with first-degree conspiracy to commit racketeering, first-degree racketeering, first-degree money laundering, second-degree conspiracy to commit fencing, second-degree fencing, and second-degree receiving stolen property. The charges against Jyamfi are still pending.
There is an active bench warrant for Jyamfi, as he failed to appear for his matter.
The indictment against Jyamfi alleges that between August 2002 and October 2004, he allegedly purchased approximately $2 million in stolen prescription drugs from Diaz, Saman and others. Jyamfi allegedly used the stolen drugs to stock his pharmacy. He allegedly sold the stolen medications, which were sometimes improperly packaged and labeled, to the general public, including persons covered by Medicaid.
Two other individuals who sold stolen drugs to Ojah Pharmacy were Stephen Dwamena and Gayford Yaw. Dwamena, 63, of Union, formerly a pharmacist at Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth and University Hospital in Newark, pleaded guilty in October 2006 to stealing prescription drugs from his employers and was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay $74,000 in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service.
Yaw, 46, of Landing, formerly a pharmacy technician at Atlantic Health Systems/Morristown Hospital and Ojah Pharmacy, pleaded guilty in April 2007 to stealing prescription drugs from Morristown Hospital and was subsequently sentenced to three years probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and pay more than $13,000 in restitution.
The investigation was coordinated by Detective Jon Powers, Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Riza Dagli and Deputy Attorney General Debra Conrad of Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Dagli presented the case to the grand jury, and represented the state at the previous trials in this investigation while Conrad represented the state at today’s guilty plea hearing.
“The detection and prosecution these offenses is a priority for this office,” said Dagli. “Not only are fraudulent prescription claims a significant drain on private insurance and public health programs, but stolen medications are often unpackaged and loose with no way to track their expiration dates or integrity.”
Dagli noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline 1-877-55-FRAUD or visiting the web site www.njinsurancefraud.org.
State regulations permit an award to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.
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