Former Bordentown physician charged with narcotics distribution and fraud
MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. – DEA New Jersey Division Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson and Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced today that narcotics distribution and fraud charges have been filed accusing a former physician of illegally prescribing thousands of highly addictive opioid pills out of his Bordentown Township practice while simultaneously engaging in an unlawful medical billing scheme.
Morris “Moishe” Starkman, 60, of Yellowstone Road in Cinnaminson, was charged with eight counts of distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (second degree), four counts of healthcare claims fraud (second degree) and two counts of insurance fraud (second degree).
He was taken into custody Nov. 22 following the execution of a search warrant at his home, during which multiple electronic devices were seized, along with business, financial and medical records. Starkman was released following a first appearance in Superior Court. The case is being prepared for presentation to a grand jury for possible indictment.
The investigation revealed that between Jan. 1, 2015, and Jan. 1, 2018, Starkman issued prescriptions through his Bordentown family practice for nearly 1,400,000 total doses of opioids, including oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet, Roxicodone, Endocet), hydrocodone
(Vicodin, Norco, Lorcet, Lortab), oxymorphone (Opana), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), morphine and fentanyl. One patient alone was prescribed 17,460 doses, which equates to more than 15 per day.
Starkman would perform, at most, cursory examinations on patients before prescribing large amounts of opioids without medical justification, consideration of whether his patients were benefitting from the prescription painkillers he routinely and repeatedly prescribed, or exploration of the underlying causes for their pain. He also maintained inadequate records on his patients which failed to document treatment plans for pain management or opioid use, or provide a legitimate medical purpose for prescribing such high quantities for an extended period of time.
“Physicians need to understand that they will be held accountable if they choose to violate the oath they took to help those in need,” said Special Agent in Charge Gibson. “Indiscriminate prescribing of opioids has contributed to the current epidemic the country is facing today. DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to pursue those drug traffickers who choose to poison our communities.”
“He was one of the top prescribers in New Jersey,” Prosecutor Coffina said. “The number of opioids he prescribed for the three-year period reviewed during the investigation was enough to provide in excess of three doses to every man, woman and child residing in Burlington County.”
The investigation also showed that Starkman submitted fraudulent health care claims to insurance companies for over $50,000 for services that were unauthorized, not eligible for reimbursement, not provided as represented or not rendered.
The State Board of Medical Examiners temporarily suspended Starkman’s license in August 2017. Under a consent order reached in April 2018, Starkman agreed to permanently surrender his license to practice medicine in New Jersey.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Camden Office of Diverison Control and the BCPO Gang, Gun and Narcotics Task Force, with assistance from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau, the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield Special Investigations and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
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