|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP) announced that a certified nursing assistant from Jackson has been arrested for allegedly creating a fake Nurse Aide Certification to maintain her employment with a South Jersey medical agency that staffs nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Jennifer Pizzuti, 32, was taken into custody four days after an Ocean County grand jury indicted her on charges making a false government document (2nd degree), forgery, uttering a forged writing, uttering a false government document (3rd degree), and falsifying or tampering with records (4th degree).
“The insurance companies that provide coverage for elderly patients in long-term care facilities expect that patients are being provided quality care by qualified professionals who meet the standards set by the state,” said Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy. “Anyone who attempts to falsify their work credentials to circumvent those standards will be dealt with harshly.”
Pizzuti received a 2-year Nurse Aide Certification from the New Jersey Department of Health in 2013. In March 2015, while employed by R.J. Healthcare Services in Asbury Park, Pizzuti was informed by the Department of Health that she would not be allowed to renew her certification until she cleared up some outstanding issues that could disqualify her application.
Instead of resolving those issues, Pizzuti chose to take matters into her own hands by forging a Nurse Aide Certification and presenting it to her employer as proof of her fitness to work with patients in long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, or in-home settings, prosecutors said. Pizzuti was subsequently placed to work with patients in the Pine Brook Rehabilitation & Care Center in Manalapan, Bella Terra assisted living facility in Jackson, and the Laurel Bay Health & Rehabilitation Center in Keansburg until the forgery was discovered in June.
“Falsifying government documents is a serious crime, especially when it comes to the certifications required to protect the health, safety, and welfare of medical patients,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Iu. This office will fully investigate and prosecute anyone who attempts to defraud the systems in place to ensure elderly patients have access to quality care by trained and certified professionals.”
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000; third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000; fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18 months in state prison and a criminal fine of $10,000.
Deputy Attorney General Melissa M. Simsen presented the case to the grand jury. Detective Anthony Iannice coordinated the investigation.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Iu noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.