Dentist ordered to jail for fraud over paper clip root canals

BOSTON Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:19pm EST

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BOSTON (Reuters) - A former Boston-area dentist accused of substituting paper clips for stainless steel posts in patient root canals was sentenced to two and a half years in jail for Medicaid fraud, authorities said on Monday.

Michael Clair, 53, who has admitted to charges including filing false claims and assault and battery, billed Medicaid for the cost of standard root-canal posts and submitted claims using other dentists' identification numbers, authorities said.

Clair will serve one year in jail followed by five years of probation, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley's office said. The remaining one and a half years will be held on a suspended sentence, it said.

Clair, who ran a dental practice in Fall River, Massachusetts, also pleaded guilty to illegally prescribing powerful pain killers such as Hydrocodone and Percocet to staff members who would give all or some of the medication back.

He entered the plea earlier this month, reversing a not guilty plea made in 2010, the office said.

Authorities said Clair used pieces of paper clips in place of stainless steel posts as a permanent fix in root canals to save money. Although such a process can be used as a temporary solution in certain cases, it can lead to infection, discomfort and pain, authorities said.

(Reporting By Lauren Keiper; Editing by Paul Thomasch)

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