Here’s a twist on the old saying, “it’s like pulling teeth!” A former Massachusetts dentist will now need a criminal defense attorney to defend against charges of “clipping” teeth..
I am referring to Michael C., 51, a dentist formerly of Fall River, but now of Maryland (hereinafter, the “Defendant”). Boston’s Attorney General has indicted the Defendant for a number of fraudulent…and related…criminal acts.
In short, the Defendant is charged with allegedly using paper clips in dental work and then billing Medicaid for the stainless steel posts he should have used. The Defendant also stands indicted on a charge of submitting additional false claims to the Medicaid program using other dentists’ provider numbers and illegally prescribing prescription drugs.
The complainants of the charges are two-fold. One, of course, is the program that was billed. The other are the actual patients who allegedly received the “treatment”.
The Defendant was indicted on two counts of assault and battery; three counts of larceny over $250; five counts of filing false Medicaid claims; two counts of illegally prescribing a Class B substance; and one count of prescribing a Class C Substance.
According to the Commonwealth, the Defendant inserted pieces of paper clips into patients’ mouths as a post in root canals instead of utilizing standard posts made of stainless steel. He would then allegedly bill the Medicaid program for the costs of the post using other dentists’ provider numbers, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office said.
Apparently, the Defendant was suspended by Medicaid in 2002. He allegedly hired other dentists for his clinic and filed Medicaid claims using their numbers totaling approximately $130,000 between August 2003 and June 2005.
The Defendant is returning to the Commonwealth in April to face the charges.
The crime of fraud is a white collar crime, but can have application in other types of criminal allegations as well.
It is no surprise that falsifying information on a form in order to receive more money is fraud, in this case Medicaid fraud. It also accounts for the charges of larceny. However, it also attaches to the dental care allegedly given. The charges of assault do not mean that the Defendant is believed to have grabbed his patients, forced them down in the chair, somehow jimmied their mouths open and forced the dental work. In this case, the Defendant is accused of giving said dental work under false pretenses. It is assumed that the patients would not have agreed to the work if they knew what work they were actually getting.
You would be surprised…this could be a very triable issue on the part of the defense.
Of course, depending on how the forms appear, that part of the alleged scheme could be triable for the defense as well.
Apparently, the Defendant’s alleged acts were at least suspected back in 2002. As you may be aware, it is now 2010. The fact that the Defendant moved out of state and eight years have passed have not meant that the Commonwealth simply “forgot about it”.
I meet many clients who tell me that they never hired counsel because they figured that the government either did or would forget about their “meaningless” case. The fact is, they seldom do. They may seem to go away for awhile, but, all of a sudden, they come back.
What I also see is the approach on the part of investigators. They show up, years later, with the casual story that they just want to clear “this one” off the books. It’s so long ago, after all, and the government has other things to worry about. So, the suggestion is that the target make a little statement to explain what had happened and, after all, there is no doubt that the target is really a good person who has kept out of trouble in the meantime, so there will be little to no trouble from them if the target just comes clean.
In this instance, cleanliness, while perhaps next to godliness, is not next to continued liberty. In fact, the two are often separated by steel bars.
This is why I suggest that in such cases the target, as soon as an investigation is even suspected, contact experienced legal counsel. You would be surprised how a simple little statement given to help the government clear its desk can change an otherwise triable defense case into a steep uphill battle.
As always, if you are facing such a situation and wish to discuss it with me, please feel free to contact me at 617-492-3000.
To find the original story upon which this story is based, please go to http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/22855076/detail.html
Happy St. Patrick’s Day and (in Suffolk County) Evacuation Day!