Prosecutor: Owner, workers posed as fake vets at NJ animal hospital
🏥 NJ woman is accused of keeping animal hospital open after husband’s death
🏥 After the only qualified veterinarian died, two men posed as vets, police say
🏥 An investigation began when a dog died after a routine procedure
A Montclair widow and two New York men have been slammed with a total of 77 criminal charges, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes announced, for keeping the Totowa Animal Hospital open by posing as veterinarians and performing surgeries on clients’ pets.
Alia Muslih, 41, was first arrested in August 2021.
The men also now facing charges were 50-year-old Yaser Abdel-Fatah, of Buffalo, and 64-year-old Marco Gamarra, of Bronx, Valdes said.
The trio has been indicted on third-degree and fourth-degree animal cruelty, second-degree and third-degree impersonation and second-degree counts of healthcare claims fraud and insurance fraud, among other charges.
Prosecutor: After tragic death, Montclair widow called duo to deceive vet clients
Muslih’s husband, Adel Hamdan, was a licensed veterinarian. The 73-year-old man died in December 2020 of COVID-19, NorthJersey.com reported.
Hamdan had been licensed to operate the facility, until his death.
In July 2021, a person reported to Totowa police after her dog died following a routine spay appointment at Totowa Animal Hospital.
Police notified the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office White Collar Crimes Division, which opened an investigation.
Authorities found that Muslih had illegally kept the animal hospital open months after her husband’s death without a licensed veterinarian on staff.
Instead, Abdel-Fatah and Gamarra were posing as vets, doing surgical procedures and giving medical treatment to animals, according to the prosecutor.
By August 2021, the state Board of Veterinary Medicine had confirmed that Totowa Animal Hospital was no longer a licensed veterinary clinic.
Additional charges against Muslih, Abdel-Fatah and Gamarra
Muslih, Abdel-Fatah and Gamarra have also been indicted on charges of second-degree possession and distribution of prescription drugs and controlled substances, misconduct by a corporate official, money laundering and theft by deception.’’
Additionally, they faced third-degree counts of obtaining a prescription drug by forgery, forgery and failure to file and pay tax.
Muslih, Abdel-Fatah and Gamarra were on pretrial release, as of Tuesday.
The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office has asked anyone with additional information to contact its tips line at 1-877-370-PCPO.