A New Jersey police officer and his sister pleaded guilty in connection to a health insurance fraud scheme in which they said they were married, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's office said Wednesday.
Alix Antoine, 38, and his biological half-sister, Patricia Louis, 44, pleaded guilty to charges of third-degree insurance fraud Tuesday, officials said.
Antoine, a 12-year veteran of the Asbury Park Police Department, and Louis, are due back in court for sentencing June 9. Authorities said they will both apply for admission to the pre-trial intervention program.
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An investigation by the prosecutor's office revealed that while employed by the Asbury Park Police Department, Antoine filed fake documents allowing his sister and his nephew to get medical benefits provided by the department that Louis wasn't entitled to, officials said.
The suspended officer claimed Louis was his lawful spouse from 2009 to 2013, officials said.
Louis' attorney, Mitchell Ignatoff, believes that the decision was an issue of marriage validity, not insurance fraud. Antoine and his half-sister filed for marriage in Haiti, but the union wasn't legally recognized by the state because of the nature of their relationship.
"If they were considered properly married, I don't think it would be an issue at all," he said. "It's perfectly legal for people to get married to get health insurance. Prosecutors can't be in the business of questioning a marriage under state law if it's legal."
Antoine was indicted on charges of official misconduct, insurance fraud and tampering with public records Jun. 27, 2016. His sister was also indicted on conspiracy to commit official misconduct and insurance fraud.
The siblings agreed to pay $189,645.84 in restitution to the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.
A Monmouth County judge ordered Antoine to forfeit his job at the police department Tuesday. Officials said he's indefinitely disqualified from holding public office or employment statewide.
Antoine's attorney, Richard Incremona of Freehold, says his client opted to plea to a lesser crime in order to avoid jailtime. He was indicted on three second-degree crimes, one of which carried a minimum of 5 years in jail without parole if convicted.
"This was a resolution by way of plea into pre-trial intervention," Incremona said. "[Antoine] can now start planning his future. He doesn't have to worry about jail hanging over his head."
As part of the plea deal, the charges against Antoine will be dismissed upon his completion of the pre-trial intervention program.