An Ocean County man has admitted to scamming $1.5 million in fake insurance claims involving phony employee health plans for hundreds of people in Lakewood.

Jonas Knopf, 65, of Lakewood, pleaded guilty to making false statements related to a health care benefits program, in a remote federal court appearance.

The charge stems from phony claims to Blue Cross Blue Shield health care affiliates, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced, while Knopf was chief executive officer of Madison Financial Services, also based in the township.

He was a licensed insurance producer and created an elaborate system between 2009 and 2013 involving made-up companies in Pennsylvania that listed township residents as pretend employees, in order to secure health care coverage through BCBS benefit plans, federal prosecutors said.

The scheme was interrupted when Pennsylvania officials forced Knopf to surrender his insurance producer’s license there and cease operation.

Knopf faces up to five years in prison when sentenced in August. He also faces either a maximum fine of $250,000, twice the gross gain or twice the gross loss from the offense, whichever is greater.

At the time of Knopf’s arrest in 2018, federal officials said he then had continued a similar scam out of Washington, D.C., and Virginia, racking up several more millions of dollars in phony insurance claims, ending in 2017.

It was not immediately clear on Tuesday if he faced separate charges for the insurance scheme that involved Virginia.

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