A former doctor has been charged with narcotics distribution and fraud on 21 counts for illegally prescribing thousands of highly addictive opioid pills in his Bordentown Township practice while participating in an illegal billing program for three years.
Morris “Moishe” Starkman, 62, of Cinnaminson, was judged by a grand jury on 15 controlled hazardous substance distribution cases (2 (third degree)), according to information provided by Burlington County Attorney Scott Coffina on December 14th.
The indictment was returned on November 19 and signed by First Assistant Prosecutor Philip S. Aronow. There will soon be an indictment before the Higher Regional Court.
Starkman was charged on November 22, 2019 after a search warrant was issued on his home that resulted in the confiscation of several electronic devices, as well as business, financial and medical records.
The investigation found that between January 1, 2015 and January 1, 2018, Starkman allegedly issued prescriptions through his Bordentown Family Practice for nearly 1.4 million total doses of opioids, including oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet, Roxicodon, Endocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco, Lorcet, Lortab), oxymorphone (Opana), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), morphine and fentanyl.
The eight patients listed in the criminal charges filed against Starkman were alleged to have received an average of 11 doses of opioids per day during that period.
One patient alone was prescribed 17,460 doses, which is more than 15 per day. according to the statement.
They were each given four to ten times the maximum recommended dose by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The investigation found that Starkman conducted – at best – cursory examinations of patients before prescribing large amounts of opioids without medical justification, checking whether his patients were benefiting from the prescription pain relievers he routinely and repeatedly prescribed, or researching the underlying causes for her pain, according to the indictment.
Starkman reportedly kept inadequate records of his patients who failed to document pain management or opioid use treatment plans or provided a legitimate medical purpose for prescribing such high amounts over an extended period of time, the statement said.
His patients’ reliance on the highly addictive opioids he prescribed ensured they would return to the office frequently for refills and billing for a doctor visit, the statement said.
“Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from overdoses and millions more are struggling with addictions,” Coffina said in the statement. “In a great many of these cases, the person’s addiction began with prescribed opioids. Doctors who have violated their oath and patient trust by indiscriminately prescribing opioid drugs without monitoring how their patients are doing with the drugs and whether they have become addicted should be held accountable for criminal behavior that on the destruction of life and the relentless crisis of addiction that so many still face. “
The investigation also found that at the same time, Starkman allegedly filed fraudulent health claims in excess of $ 50,000 against insurance companies for non-refundable, non-refundable, non-performing, or non-performing services.
Starkman was first noticed by law enforcement in late 2016 after an insurance company contacted authorities on suspicion of illegal activity in his practice about the high volume of opioid prescriptions he was writing, the statement said.
The State Board of Medical Examiners temporarily suspended Starkman’s license in August 2017. Under a consent order issued in April 2018, Starkman agreed to permanently relinquish his license to practice medicine in New Jersey.
Seized records from Starkman’s office showed that one of his patients took a fatal overdose in May 2015, two months after his last visit to the Bordentown office, the statement said.
The recordings showed that during a visit in December 2014, Starkman continued to prescribe the patient Oxycontin, although he said he was “sluggish and fell asleep” during the visit. When the patient went to the practice the following month because he was “ill” and “ran out of medication again early”, Starkman wrote him a prescription for a higher dose of oxycodone. During the patient’s last visit in March 2015, Starkman prescribed 120 additional oxycodone tablets, despite having been discharged three days earlier from a week-long stay at a mental health and addiction facility seeking help with anxiety and panic attacks had, so the statement.
Due to insufficient evidence linking his prescriptions to the patient’s fatal overdose, Starkman was not charged in connection with the patient’s death.