New Jersey Doctor, Teacher, and Firefighter all Participated in $50 Million Prescription Drug Scam

Zack Love
4 min readSep 10, 2022

A doctor, a teacher, and a firefighter walk into a bar. The teacher says, “Want to join me in a prescription drug scheme?” It sounds like a bad joke.

Photo by Aidan Bartos on Unsplash

Most people think positively about the public servants that risk their lives on a daily basis to protect us, and rightfully so. But sometimes corruption can run rampant, and that includes through the ranks of our trusted public servants.

A healthcare conspiracy in New Jersey recruited both government and school employees and included multiple firefighters, a police officer, and a teacher, among others, totaling 40 people. The prescription drugs then traveled to Louisiana, and a compounding pharmacy made money on prescriptions already paid for in New Jersey. It was all foiled by the FBI.

The top recruiter in the scam was Shawn Sypherd, a teacher in Middle Township, NJ. One of his accomplices is Thomas Sher, a firefighter in Atlantic City who also became a recruiter in the scam. And then there is Dr. John Gaffney, who signed 200 prescriptions without even seeing the patients, and the prescriptions were faxed to the Pharmacy to be billed at the expense of the Pharmacy Benefits Administrator. (Source:

The Prescription Drug Scheme

Part 1: Recruiting. As reported by, Shawn Sypherd admitted to his role as the “top recruiter” in the scam from July 2014 to April 2016. He would recruit various public workers to fraudulently obtain ‘compounded’ medications, such as scar, antifungal, libido creams, and vitamin combinations.” (Source:

Their scheme started after learning that “state workers such as teachers, firefighters, local and state police were covered under a generous prescription drug plan that included reimbursement for such drugs.” (Source:

According to, 40 people have been convicted or pleaded guilty to the conspiracy, with the sole intent “to seek unnecessary specialty medications for ailments including pain, scarring, fungal and libido problems.”

After finding more participants, it was not difficult to get Dr. John Gaffney to sign off on prescriptions for patients he didn’t even see.



Zack Love

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