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IBEW Local 827 Business Agent Carmine Mattia, Jr. (Photo: Facebook).

Union leader indicted on health care fraud charges

Carmine Mattia, Jr. nearly ousted an incumbent in a 2020 Belleville council race

By David Wildstein, July 24 2021 10:46 am

Carmine A. Mattia, Jr., a union leader and former Belleville council candidate, was indicted on Friday for his role in a scheme to defraud a telecommunications company by billing them for expensive compounded prescriptions that were medically unnecessary.

Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig said Mattia is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health fraud and three counts of health care fraud.

He is the business agent for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 827 and also worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative for an unnamed company that worked with the health plan of the telecommunications company Mattia worked for.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, pharmacists mix specialty medications when a physician determines that medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration won’t meet the specific health needs of a patient.

“If a patient was allergic to a specific ingredient in an FDA-approved medication, such as a dye or preservative, a compounded drug could be prepared excluding the substance that triggered the allergic reaction,” the indictment explained.  “Compounded drugs could also be prescribed when a patient could not consume a medication by traditional means, such as an elderly patient or child who could not swallow an FDA-approved pill and needed the drug in a liquid form that was not otherwise available.”

Prosecutors allege that Mattia received a commission for each compounded medication prescription billed to the company’s health plan.

Mattia cost his employer about $10,000, prosecutors said.

Named as an unindicted co-conspirator was Robert Agresti, previously admitted that he was part of a scheme to defraud health insurance plans – including a state and local health benefit program – by signing fraudulent prescriptions.  He was paid $300 for every prescription he signed.  Prosecutors allege that insurance paid out over $8.9 million in unnecessary prescriptions.  The Essex Fells physician was arrested in 2019.

Mattia ran for a 1st ward council seat in Belleville in a May 2020 non-partisan election and lost by 105 votes, 547-522, to incumbent Marie Strumolo Burke.

He now lives in Cedar Grove.

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