Former Union City pharmacy owner pleads guilty to bribing doctors

Millions of dollars from the pharmacy were funneled into a secret bank account

The pharmacy owner pleaded guilty to a kickback scheme between the pharmacy and doctors.
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The pharmacy owner pleaded guilty to a kickback scheme between the pharmacy and doctors.

The former co-owner of a Union City pharmacy admitted his role in a scheme to pay bribes to health care professionals and evading taxes on $33.9 million in income, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.

Igor Fleyshmakher, 58, of Holmdel, pleaded guilty in federal court in Trenton to the charges of conspiring to violate the federal anti-kickback statute, and tax evasion.

“Fleyshmakher, with his previously indicted co-conspirators, bribed doctors to illegally increase profits and enrich themselves,” said Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Holmdel man conspired to violate the anti-kickback statute, allegedly with other individuals, including a man from New York. The individuals were identified as Samuel Khaimov of Glen Head, NY; Ruben Sevumyants of Marlboro;,Alex Fleyshmakher of Morganville; and Eduard Shtindler of Paramus. According to the U.S. Attorney, Shtindler had previously pleaded guilty for his role in a related kickback conspiracy and is pending sentencing.

The charges against and allegations in the information pertaining to Khaimov, Sevumyants, and Alex Fleyshmakher are merely accusations, and those three defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The Prime Aid Pharmacies, now closed, operated as “specialty pharmacies” out of locations in Union City and the Bronx. The U.S. Attorney said that the pharmacy processed expensive medications used to treat various conditions, including Hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Igor Fleyshmakher and Khaimov were co-owners of Prime Aid Union City. Sevumyants was Prime Aid Union City’s operations manager, and Alex Fleyshmakher and Shtindler were Prime Aid Union City employees.

Khaimov was also the lead pharmacist of Prime Aid Bronx, and Alex Fleyshmakher was an owner of Prime Aid Bronx.

To obtain a higher volume of prescriptions, Igor Fleyshmakher, Khaimov, Sevumyants, Alex Fleyshmakher, Shtindler, and other Prime Aid employees allegedly paid bribes to doctors and doctors’ employees starting in 2010.

“Kickback schemes like this not only illegally enrich defendants like Fleyshmakher, they take needed resources from our health care system,” Carpenito said. “And after stealing millions of dollars in this way, the defendant stole again, by failing to report this income or pay taxes on it. His guilty plea today will make sure he is held to account for his crimes.”

The goal of the bribes was to induce doctors’ offices to steer prescriptions to the Prime Aid Pharmacies, according to the U.S. Attorney. The bribes included expensive meals, designer bags, and payments by cash, check, and wire transfers paid to doctors and doctors’ employees in New Jersey and New York.

As part of his plea agreement, Igor Fleyshmakher agreed that he had benefited from the violation of the federal anti-kickback statute, netting between  $3.5 million and $9.5.

According to FBI-Newark Special Agent in Charge Gregory Ehrie, the FBI is searching for schemes like this, and participants will be caught.

“This fraudster was part of a kickback scheme that not only tilted the scales toward Prime Aid Pharmacies, but diverted precious federal dollars so he could enrich himself while ripping off the government,” Ehrie said. “If you are an investor or medical professional participating in a fraud scheme for an ill-gotten gain, you should ask yourself if it’s worth the price you will pay.”

Tax evasion

Igor Fleyshmakher also diverted a substantial amount of Prime Aid Union City income into a secret bank account that he opened and controlled.

Between 2012 and 2014, he concealed the account from the pharmacy’s tax preparers and did not report any of the funds he deposited into it on his personal income tax returns, according to the U.S. Attorney.

In total, he diverted $33.9 million of income into the secret account, all of which he failed to report to the IRS. The U.S. Attorney said that Igor Fleyshmakher’s conduct as a co-owner of the pharmacy resulted in a $5.8 million tax loss to the IRS on his share of that income for tax years 2012 through 2014.

John Tafur, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation, said that law enforcement partners will find those who decide to roll the dice like Igor Fleyshmakher.

“Bribing doctors to line your own pockets and using secret accounts to evade taxes are both very serious offenses motivated by one thing: greed,” Tafur said. “Today’s guilty plea should send a strong deterrent message to anyone else thinking about participating in this type of illegal activity.”

The conspiracy and tax evasion charges to which Igor Fleyshmakher pleaded guilty each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The U.S. Attorney said that sentencing for Igor Fleyshmakher is scheduled for June 22.

Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, special agents of the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, and the N.J. Office of the State Comptroller with the ongoing investigation leading to the guilty plea.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Dan Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.