A Pasco County judge candidate's largest donor was indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this month, accused of defrauding private insurance companies and government health care programs out of millions.
Scott Tremblay's campaign announced Sunday that it will donate to charity as much as it can afford of the $7,000 it received from benefactor Nicholas Borgesano and six of Borgesano's companies. As of Aug. 21, the campaign had just $2,268 in its coffers, according to a statement.
Tremblay, a private lawyer in New Port Richey and former prosecutor, is challenging Pasco County Judge Debra Roberts in the Aug. 30 primary. Michael Wilson, a Pasco County sheriff's detective, Army judge advocate and former private lawyer is also in the race.
Tremblay said Borgesano had not yet been indicted in March when he accepted the donations — which represented more than 25 percent of Tremblay's total contributions of roughly $25,000, as of Aug. 12 — and did not know Borgesano was under investigation.
"Had I known that he had done anything illegal with any of the businesses, I wouldn't have accepted any money from him or had any dealings with him," Tremblay said.
According to the Aug. 3 indictment, Borgesano, a local businessman and president of A to Z Pharmacy in New Port Richey, and seven other people were charged with submitting about $634 million in false reimbursement claims for prescription medication to insurance companies, Medicare and the Tricare military health program between 2012 and roughly December 2015. A to Z and several Miami-based pharmacies obtained more than $157 million in reimbursements for drugs they never administered, the indictment alleged.
Once the group obtained the money, five of the eight members, including Borgesano, used shell companies to launder it, the indictment said, by transferring funds among several companies.
Borgesano and the others were charged with conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud. A smaller group of five was also charged with money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Reached by phone, Borgesano declined to comment on the donations to Tremblay. He was released from jail Aug. 16 on $15 million bail and is subject to home confinement, court records show.
Two of the companies listed in the indictment as being part of the money laundering scheme, NB Investment and NB Motorsports, donated $1,000 each to Tremblay's campaign. Both companies list Borgesano as their registered agent in state records.
Borgesano also personally donated $1,000 to Tremblay. Additionally, four more companies owned by the businessman that weren't mentioned in the indictment donated $1,000 each to Tremblay's campaign.
Tremblay said it should not be a cause for concern that he accepted donations from Borgesano.
"Because clearly, I've had a long reputation in the community for doing the right thing with my law practice and as a prosecutor," said Tremblay, who said he met Borgesano when he began representing the businessman in an ordinance violation case roughly a year ago. "And as I said, there was no way that I could have known that he had … billing issues with his company. I didn't have any involvement with (the pharmacy), so I didn't know."
Since then, Tremblay said, he has done work for some of Borgesano's employees in traffic and family law cases. Some of that work, the candidate said, was pro bono. Tremblay also represented Borgesano's father in a Hernando County case about a $200,000 brick paver theft in which the younger Borgesano was also charged. The elder Borgesano, Tremblay's client, pleaded no contest to grand theft charges. The younger Borgesano, who was represented by another attorney, had his charges dropped.
"I think he was grateful I helped some of his employees," Tremblay said of Borgesano. "I think he thought he could donate money to kind of compensate."
Tremblay's campaign said it would donate any remaining campaign funds to charity — half to the Humane Society of Pasco County and half to Habitat for Humanity of Pasco County.
County Commissioner Jack Mariano, who is running for re-election, also accepted $1,000 each from Borgesano and one of his companies in February. Mariano, who had raised more than $110,000 as of Aug. 12, according to campaign filings, said he didn't know about the pending charges when he accepted the money and also planned to donate Borgesano's contributions to charity, though he wouldn't say to which organization.
Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @josh_solomon15.