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The Department of Justice (DOJ) Criminal Division recently announced the formation of the Newark, New Jersey/Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Regional Medicare Fraud Strike Force (Regional Strike Force).  Strike Force operations are a joint initiative between the DOJ and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws.  The newest Regional Strike Force is a joint enforcement effort of the Health Care Fraud Unit (HCF Unit) in the DOJ’s Criminal Division Fraud Section and the United States Attorney’s Offices for the District of New Jersey and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  Law enforcement partners in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will also participate in the HCF Unit’s enforcement efforts.

The Newark/Philadelphia Strike Force will consist of prosecutors and data analysts with the HCF Unit, prosecutors from each district’s U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and special agents with the FBI, OIG, and DEA.  It will also work with other state Medicaid Fraud Control Units and various federal law enforcement agencies such as the U.S. Postal Inspection Services and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Division.  Strike Force efforts will focus on investigating and prosecuting cases involving illegal prescribing and distribution of opioids.  These efforts will also extend to dangerous narcotics and other cases involving fraud, waste, and abuse within federal health care programs.

The formation of the newest Regional Strike Force comes in the wake of the DOJ’s June health care fraud enforcement action that involved 601 defendants across 58 federal districts.  Of the 601 defendants charged, 162 were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics, including 76 doctors.  The HCF Unit operated 10 other Regional Strike Forces across the United States prior to the formation of the Newark/Philadelphia Regional Strike Force.  Those Regional Strike Forces operate in Miami, Florida; Los Angeles, California; Detroit, Michigan; Houston, Texas; Brooklyn, New York; Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana; Tampa, Florida; Chicago, Illinois; and Dallas, Texas, along with a Corporate Strike Force located in Washington, D.C.

The full DOJ press release is available at:

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/assistant-attorney-general-benczkowski-announces-newarkphiladelphia-medicare-fraud-strike.

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