Wisconsin dentist Scott Charmoli convicted of health care fraud for intentionally knocking out patients’ teeth
At the end of a four-day trial on Thursday, Charmoli, 61, was found guilty of five counts of healthcare fraud and two counts of misrepresentation about the treatment of his patients. He is due to be sentenced in June, when he will face up to 10 years for each of the health care fraud counts and a maximum of five years for the other two convictions.
Attorneys for Charmoli did not immediately respond to a Washington Post request for comment on Tuesday evening. But when the dentist pleaded not guilty at his December 2020 arraignment, his attorney at the time said the only thing his client was guilty of was hard work.
“He certainly denies that his hard-earned wealth from many, many years of dental practice 40-60 hours a week was the product of anything other than his own diligence, hard work and business acumen,” said defense attorney Nila Robinson. noted.
Charmoli had assets worth more than $6.8 million at the end of 2020 and owned vacation properties in Wisconsin and Arizona, according to prosecutors, who allege he billed more than 4 .2 million for crowns between 2016 and 2019.
Beginning in 2015, Charmoli pestered his patients to get crowns they didn’t need, federal prosecutors said. After intentionally damaging their teeth, he submitted photos and X-rays to insurance companies as “before” photos to substantiate the treatment required to repair the damage he had just done.
“It seemed excessive, but I didn’t know any better,” Tedeschi said. “He was the professional. I just trusted him.
Charmoli gave his patients more crowns — a procedure in which a dentist replaces a damaged or missing part of a tooth with a tooth-shaped cap — than 95% of dentists in Wisconsin from 2016 to 2019, according to federal prosecutors. During Charmoli’s trial, an insurance company executive said the average dentist in the state performed about six crown procedures for every 100 patients, while Charmoli performed more than 32, according to the Journal Sentinel.
A former Charmoli dental assistant testified that traffic at his practice, Jackson Family Dentistry, picked up after moving to a bigger space and that marketing experts encouraged him to push patients to pay for more services, reported the newspaper.
The assistant, Baily Bayer, said the change in strategy made her feel uncomfortable and stressed; she ended up leaving the firm, according to the newspaper. Dentistry, she told jurors, “shouldn’t be a sales pitch. It should be either you need it or you don’t.
After Charmoli was indicted in December 2020, more than 60 patients contacted prosecutors to report they “firmly believe” he had deliberately damaged their teeth, forcing them to cobble together “significant co-payments” for the repairs. .
“Some of these patients were extremely vulnerable people in abusive relationships, recently widowed, cancer survivors, and living paycheck to paycheck to pay the necessary co-payments for the unnecessary procedures he was charging for. “, prosecutor Julie Stewart said in 2020.
Nearly 100 former patients have sued Charmoli for medical malpractice, the Journal Sentinel reported. Those proceedings were kept in limbo until his federal criminal case was completed.
Charmoli’s methods were exposed after his dental practice was sold in 2019. The new owners, reviewing his records, noticed the high rate of crown procedures. One of them denounced his predecessor to the authorities.
“Patient health and safety is my biggest concern as a physician. As healthcare professionals, we take an oath to ‘do no harm’ to our patients, which is why I felt an ethical obligation to report any activity I thought was suspicious,” wrote Pako Major, owner of Jackson Family Dentistry, on the firm’s website.
State authorities suspended Charmoli’s dental license in February 2021, pending disciplinary action. It first obtained this license in 1986.