Woman in compound medication scheme suing over alleged prison mistreatment

The first defendant sentenced in the South Jersey prescription compound medication scandal is suing the federal government over alleged malpractice during the COVID-19 pandemic and sexual assault she endured while in prison.

Kristie Masucci alleges in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut that she contracted COVID-19 because of failed precautions and was sexually assaulted by a gynecologist while she was incarcerated.

The alleged abuse happened while she was housed at Danbury, Connecticut’s federal prison, according to the lawsuit.

The suit names the prison’s warden, Diane Easter, Dr. Thomas Greene Jr. and Michael D. Carvajal, former director of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, as defendants.

The bureau is overseen by the U.S. Justice Department, which did not return a request for comment.

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Masucci was a 37-year-old Stafford Township resident at the time she was sentenced in 2019 for being a part of a compound medication scheme that defrauded the state health benefits plan of about $50 million. 

She was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Kugler to two years in prison and to pay $1.8 million in restitution. She also was ordered to three years of probation upon release.

Kugler, at the time of her sentencing, said Masucci, with help from her husband, filled out 55 fraudulent prescriptions, some of which were worth more than $10,000 each, from Dr. John Gaffney, who formerly held a medical practice in Margate.

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The $5 million lawsuit was filed in May by Connecticut-based attorney Alexander T. Taubes. The litigation seeks monetary damages, attorney’s fees and other relief the court deems suitable.

The defendants are in the process of being served, Taubes said. A federal judge on Thursday ordered a 60-day response timeline in the case, he said.

While incarcerated, Masucci became infected with COVID-19 because the prison failed to identify her as a person who could have been released from prison under orders from former U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued April 3, 2020, the lawsuit states.

“It’s a really, really bad place,” Taubes said of the prison.

By not acting on emergency plans, Masucci was exposed to potential severe disease, the lawsuit states. She tested positive for COVID-19 in June 2020 and was sent to the prison’s male living quarters under confinement, spending slightly over two weeks there, the lawsuit states.

“Inmates, including Plaintiff, were forced into unconstitutionally dangerous conditions, and were forced to remain in isolation as a result of the poor planning on the part of FCI Danbury,” the lawsuit reads.

During the pandemic in 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a class-action lawsuit, settled in July of that year, in which the federal Bureau of Prisons agreed to identify low-risk offenders at high risk for developing severe COVID-19 and send them to home confinement.

Masucci further alleges she was sexually assaulted by a Greene, the prison’s only gynecologist, during an exam at an unknown date.

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A female nurse was present during the exam but stood “on the outside of a privacy curtain and did not view the exam,” the lawsuit states, leaving Greene to take advantage of her “while she was at her most vulnerable.”

The protocol should have mandated that a female nurse observe the exam, the lawsuit states.

The prison is poorly run, Taubes said, adding that lawsuits and settlements are the “only form of accountability that even exists” for malpractice at the facility.

Masucci began her sentence Jan. 2, 2020, and was released Sept. 14, 2021, the lawsuit states.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Eric Conklin:

609-272-7261

econklin@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressConklin

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