Published January 24, 2012
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – A former dentist has pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud for using sections of paper clips instead of stainless steel posts in root canals in an effort to save money.
Michael Clair, who had a practice in Fall River, is scheduled to be sentenced next week. He pleaded guilty Friday to defrauding Medicaid of $130,000, assault and battery, illegally prescribing prescription drugs and witness intimidation charges.
Some of Clair's patients reported infections after he performed root canals on them, said Grant Woodman, a spokesman for state Attorney General Martha Coakley, whose office prosecuted Clair.
Prosecutors say Clair was suspended by Medicaid in 2002 but continued filing by using the names of other dentists in his practice.
Clair's license to practice dentistry was suspended in Massachusetts in July 2006. Woodman said Clair is no longer licensed to practice dentistry in any state.
Clair's lawyer, John Dingee, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday. The 53-year-old Clair now lives in Crofton, Md.
James Kulild, a professor of endodontics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry, said there are very limited circumstances under which a paper clip could be used during dental procedures. He said a paper clip should never be left in permanently.
"Paper clips do not satisfy the requirements for posts, not only because they aren't made of stainless steel but because their shape and consistency will not allow them to be functionally acceptable to use," Kulild said.