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Ventnor firefighter latest to plead guilty in vast prescription fraud scheme

Corey Sutor, a Ventnor firefighter, is the 23rd person to plead guilty in a vast prescription drug scheme at the shore.

U.S. District Courthouse in Camden
U.S. District Courthouse in CamdenRead moreAmy Rosenberg / Staff

Corey Sutor, 37, a Ventnor, N.J., firefighter, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Camden to a $2 million role in the vast prescription drug scheme that exploited public benefits held by Shore firefighters, police officers, and teachers.

Sutor was identified in court as a co-owner of “Company 1," which prosecutors said was set up to recruit public employees to submit prescriptions for costly compound drugs like vitamins and scar and fungal creams, and then receive a percentage from a pharmacy filling the prescriptions by mail order.

Those recruited were paid hundreds of dollars per month “to reward them,” according to the plea agreement read in court by U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler in Camden. The owners of “Company 1” split a percentage of the money the pharmacy received from the state health plan.

Sutor, of Egg Harbor Township, agreed to pay more than $2 million in restitution to the state benefit programs defrauded in the scheme, and forfeit $150,398 that represented his personal profit. Sentencing was set for March 12, 2019.

He is the second person identified as an owner of such a company. The probe into the conspiracy has snagged an Atlantic City firefighter, a Margate firefighter, two doctors, four school employees, including two teachers, and 13 pharmaceutical representatives.

Sentencings have been repeatedly delayed as, sources have said, investigators may be moving toward a bigger fish: a pharmaceutical representative who worked with the late James Kauffman, an Atlantic County endocrinologist who hanged himself in prison while awaiting charges in the death of his wife, April, a radio host and veterans advocate.

Prosecutors believe that she was trying to divorce her husband, and that he wanted her killed to protect his assets and to prevent her from revealing a drug ring he was running with members of the Pagan Outlaw Motorcycle Gang. Last week, gang leader Ferdinand Augello was sentenced to 30 years in prison in the murder case and life for leading a drug ring.

In addition, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner has said he is prepared to move on state charges for lower-level public employees caught up in the scheme. “Nobody should be comfortable," Tyner said in May.

Sutor’s attorney, Robert Wolf of Westmont, declined to comment outside the courtroom.

Ventnor Mayor Beth Holtzman said Sutor had been immediately suspended without pay and the city would move toward termination. She described the situation as “just sad” and said she knew Sutor to be a “jovial, nice young man.”

“I love my firefighters,” Holtzman said. “They are a special breed of individuals. They have a brotherhood in the way they work together. I’m sure it’s a sad day in our two firehouses.

“People make mistakes," she said. "You pay a consequence.”

Kugler ordered Sutor to remove a shotgun from his home and warned him, as he has others who have pleaded guilty in his courtroom, in some cases to as much as a $28 million role, that they come prepared at sentencing to account for the money.

“It’s a lot of money,” he said. “I want to know at the time of sentencing how you got the money, what you did with it, and where it is now,” Kugler said. “What happened to all the cash?”