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Mayor Michael Becker of Margate, New Jersey has been fretting very publicly in recent days over how his town will provide public safety if a federal investigation sidelines a large number of police and firefighters. Mayor Becker isn’t the only one worried. There are similar concerns in nearby towns to include Ventnor and Atlantic City.
Not much is known about the investigation, but news reports indicate it’s connected to possible health insurance and prescription drug fraud. It’s also connected to a doctor who was the husband of a radio talk show host murdered five-years-ago.
And in Atlantic City, Mayor Don Guardian said his city received a federal subpoena June 5 asking for “all city employees, contact information and health benefits provided,” and immediately sent the requested information.
The investigation, the subject of relentless rumors in Margate, Ventnor, Atlantic City, and some nearby mainland towns for months, appears to be centered on the misuse of health-insurance plans by municipal employees, including firefighters, police, and other employees with public health plans.
“If it involves Margate at all, I’m very concerned,” Becker said in an interview Sunday. “Our hands are tied. I’m worried, is there going to be an impact?”
The jurisdictions have received subpoenas from the FBI and there is a grand jury involved.
Mayor Becker told reporter Rosenberg he is bracing for the impact potential indictments could have on the 30-member fire department:
But while Becker says “I guess we wait,” some local fire departments have been consulting with Atlantic City to discuss possible reinforcements and coverage should any future federal indictments result in staffing issues in Margate or elsewhere, according to sources.
(Atlantic City Mayor Don) Guardian said Monday that Chief Scott Evans of the Atlantic City Fire Department is “in communications with neighboring municipalities discussing mutual aid.”
Asked what he would do in the event that the investigation disproportionately affects his city’s 30-something-member fire department, he said, “Panic.”
Then there are the somewhat strange actions of James Kauffman the doctor whose name has surfaced. Details from Ted Greenberg and David Chang at WCAU-TV, the news operation that apparently first broke this story:
Last month’s search at the medical office of a doctor and husband of a slain New Jersey radio host is connected to a much wider probe into possible medical insurance fraud and kickbacks in the greater Atlantic City area, according to a high level law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation.
On June 13, Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office investigators along with FBI agents and Egg Harbor Township Police converged on the Egg Harbor Township office of Dr. James Kauffman, the physician husband of slain New Jersey radio host April Kauffman. NBC10 obtained body camera footage showing a standoff between Dr. Kauffman and police with the doctor yelling, “I’m not going to jail for this.”
Kauffman eventually surrendered and was taken for a psychological examination. Prosecutors said the search warrant was not related to the May, 2012 murder of his wife April Kauffman. On Tuesday NBC10 confirmed the search at Kauffman’s medical practice is linked to a prescription drug cost investigation in Margate City, New Jersey which also expanded to Atlantic City and Ventnor City.
NBC10 first uncovered a federal grand jury subpoena issued in June that ordered Margate City, New Jersey to turn over information about police, fire and other city employees who have certain prescription coverage as part of their health insurance plans. The subpoena, requested last month by the US Attorney’s Office and obtained by NBC10, asks the city to provide a listing of all police, fire and city employees who have express scripts, MedCo, and/or NJ Direct as part of their health insurance plans. It doesn’t reveal why however.
Also in June the FBI served a search warrant on the Egg Harbor Township office of prominent endocrinologist Dr. James Kauffman.
At the time his attorney Ed Jacobs said the warrant mentioned health care fraud and homicide.
The prosecutor’s office said it was part of a multi-jurisdictional investigation.
Kauffman’s late wife April was killed in their Linwood home in 2012.
He has never been named a suspect in her murder.
Guardian said the city’s Fire Department will consider mutual aid for the neighboring Downbeach communities in the event of a staffing problem associated with an investigation.
Atlantic City Fire Chief Scott Evans said he will speak with other fire chiefs and departments when more information emerges.
“Atlantic City would definitely, absolutely assist our neighbors in anything we can do,” Evans said. “We will wait and see what happens.”
It’s still unknown how many people could be affected by the investigation and from which departments, Guardian said.