Warning: Dentists Get Scammed for $50 Million

Dentists Get Scammed for $50 Million
Who can you trust?

Dentists and physicians are legendary for losing money to scam artists. But who would have thought two dentist would take their peers to the cleaners for $50 million.

What school did these guys go to?

Two Canadian dentists are being investigated by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) for an alleged $50 million Ponzi scheme.

According to the Star, in 2006 Peter Sbaraglia, DDS and his wife, Mandy Sbaraglia, DDS joined forces with Robert Mander, the mastermind of a Ponzi scheme that snatched the $50 million from naive investors.

The OSC’s Statement of Allegations states, “Sbaraglia, acting on behalf of CO Capital Growth, used investors’ funds to repay other investors and to pay for his and his family’s personal expenses and not for the benefit of CO investors. In addition, Sbaraglia and his spouse received over $2 million as purported profits earned by them in the Ponzi scheme.”

Fifty investors, many of who were dentists familiar with the Sbaraglias, may have lost up to $50 million in the scheme. Regulators calculate the amount as closer to $40 million.

The OSC claims that as much as $7 million of investors’ money remained in the Sbaraglias’ personal accounts and was never properly invested. Approximately $2 million was considered profits by the Sbaraglias and used for personal expenses. Another $2.4 million was lost in poor trades, and $585,000 was used to buy open venture securities. Much of the remainder of the money was used for business expenses, according to the OSC.

Rick McIntosh, Mandy Sbaraglia’s brother and former head of the Toronto Police Association, also lost money investing with CO Capital Growth. McIntosh and his wife invested about $1 million with the Sbaraglias.

Both Peter and Mandy Sbaraglia claim they are innocent victims and blame Robert Mander for the financial collapse of CO Capital Growth. Still, in December, a judge put all the Sparaglias’ assets into receivership, which included their $2.9 million home.

It’s never a good idea to invest money with family or friends, but if you do invest, you should be aware of the possibility of losing your money.

Have you ever been approached to invest in something offering a crazy rate of return on your investment? Do you think you could be duped into investing in a Ponzi scheme?

For a full report on the Sbaraglias’ story, visit the Star.

Dental Care: Dentist Uses Paper Clips for Root Canals

Dental Care: Dentist Uses Paper Clips for Root CanalsPaper clips for dental patient root canals and Hydrocone for the dental staff — does this sound like a normal dental practice to you?

It doesn’t to Maryland Superior Court Judge Richard Moses, who is scheduled to sentence former dentist Michael Clair on one count of tampering with evidence, one count of witness intimidation, two counts of assault and battery, three counts of illegally prescribing controlled substances, three counts of larceny, and five counts of Medicaid fraud.

Sounds like the legal system is having a good time working Dr. Clair over. But was it deserved . . . absolutely!

Dr. Michael Clair fraudulently billed Medicaid for $130,000 between August 2003 and June 2005. At that time he was licensed to practice dentistry, but had been prohibited from doing work on Medicaid patients. Investigators allege Clair performed the work and then had other dentists in the practice submit bills to Medicaid.

The investigation also charged that Clair twice used paper clips rather than the more expensive stainless steel posts to strengthen teeth given a root canal. Investigators also charged Clair with prescribing Hydrocodone, Combunox and Percocet to staff members, who in turn gave some of the medicine back to him.

Clair has admitted guilty to all the charges.

Read more: Fall River dentist who used paper clips pleads guilty before trial

Introducing The Latest In Dental Controversy: Mini Dental Implants (video)

mini dental implantsMini dental implants newer than traditional implants and they’re more controversial too, with 24% of dentists reporting that they never recommend mini dental implants for their dental patients.

Some doctors love mini implants, while others think they are an inherently inferior product.

Watch this dental survey video below for more on mini dental implants and how doctors feel about them –

Taxpayers Footing the Bill for Braces in Texas

the house that braces built WFAA-TVThe business of charging taxpayers for putting braces on kids’ teeth has exploded in Texas over the last three years according to a story by WFAA-TV in Dallas.

In 2010, Texas spent $184 million on Medicaid orthodonticsmore than the rest of the United States combined.

I want you to understand, right up front, that I’m tremendous proponent of just about any program that put dollars in dentist’s pocket for providing quality dental care. Time to be honest, this level of government pork could only have been arranged in a smoked filled back room in the dead of night.

While Texas struggles with its Medicaid budget, 34 dental organizations collected more than $1 million in Medicaid orthodontics last year.

Orthodontic treatment for children is generally an elective cosmetic procedure that many parents spend thousands of dollars on for their children. Very few dental insurance carriers cover orthodontics or elective procedures such as teeth whitening.

But in Texas, Medicaid pays dentists for orthodontics per procedure, instead of a lump sum for the “finished mouth” of straight teeth, according to WFAA-TV. This has made Medicaid orthodontia a lucrative dental business in Texas.

So much so that just three years ago, dentist Richard Malouf’s All Smiles Dental Centers of Texas collected $5.4 million from Medicaid orthodontics. Since that time, All Smiles’ Medicaid orthodontics billings nearly doubled to $10.2 million. This caught the interest of Chicago-based hedge fund Equity Partners who recently acquired All Smiles Dental for an undisclosed sum.

Now Texas dental clinics are being bought up by hedge funds, making Wall Street the ultimate destination for millions of taxpayer dollars as reported by WFAA.

The following is a video of WFAA’s investigative report –

Nowhere is the lucrative business of Medicaid braces more evident than with dentist Richard Malouf’s mansion in Dallas. It is a massive French chateau with a pool house, big enough for the average American family of four to live in. The Maloufs also own the mansion next door. According to tax records the combined value of the two properties is more than $14 million.

It is known as the house that braces built.

Dr. Malouf isn’t alone in offering Medicaid braces; there are five other dentists’ offices that provide Medicaid orthodontia on the same half-mile street in Dallas. Many of them advertise free braces under Medicaid. Jefferson Dental is one such dental operation and, according to WFAA, it is owned by hedge fund Black Canyon Capital of California.

During a struggling economy, many question whether this is the best use of taxpayer dollars. A Medicaid dollar that is spent on braces is a Medicaid dollar not being spent on fighting cavities and procedures most dentists feel are necessary.

It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds. I really want to see the which legislators initiated and signed off on this this piece of legislation and who the lobbyist where who pushed it through.

I not sure other state dental boards should hire them or hang them?

For more on this story see: Tax Money for Unneeded Braces Goes to Hedge Funds

Implant Dentistry Advertising Is Held Hostage by Texas Regulations

Implant Dentistry Advertising Is Held Hostage by Texas RegulationsDental implants are fast becoming the choice dental tool for the replacement of a missing tooth or teeth.

And the growing global demand for better oral aesthetics has driven an increase in the number of dentists performing dental implant surgeries.

But quietly, behind the scenes, states have been attempting to regulate how dentists can advertise their dental implant dentistry credentials.

Last week, the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas seeking to invalidate a Texas regulation that severely restricts dentists from advertising their AAID credentials in implant dentistry, according to prnewswire.

In 2009 and 2010, AAID won judicial verdicts overturning similar rules enforced by state dental boards in Florida and California.

AAID’s chief legal counsel, Frank Recker, JD, DDS, informed the Texas Board of Dental Examiners in writing about the unequivocal judicial precedents and hoped to convince the Board to rescind its restrictions and avoid litigation. “The Board did not respond to our communications for two years. Since AAID’s credentialed members continue to be in jeopardy if they advertise their credentials, the Academy decided to pursue legal action,” said Recker.

Two Texas dentists holding AAID’s dental implant credentials, Dr. Jay Elliott of Houston and Dr. Monty Buck of Galveston, joined the lawsuit as individual co-plaintiffs.

AAID is seeking a permanent injunction and declaratory judgment to strike down the Texas regulation, which allows unrestricted advertising only for dental credentials and accreditations issued by organizations recognized as dental specialties by the American Dental Association (ADA). Dentists with bona fide credentials not issued by ADA-recognized specialty organizations are required to include lengthy disclaimers in their advertising in Texas.

This limitation, contends AAID, is burdensome and prohibits dentists from advertising true statements about credentials in implant dentistry earned from AAID and American Board of Oral Implantology (ABOI).

In Florida and California, the presiding judges ruled that such advertising restrictions violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which protect freedom of speech and equal protection of the laws. Recker said the legal precedents solidly favor AAID and Drs. Elliott and Buck. Go get ’em guys!

“Consumers in Texas have no ready means of learning which dentists practicing in their state have significant substantive training in implant dentistry,” said Recker. “Awareness of AAID’s dental implant credential provides consumers with objectively verifiable information regarding a dentist’s knowledge, proficiency and experience. The Texas advertising restriction prevents highly qualified implant dentists from differentiating their training and education.”

Recker added that, in Texas, dentists with no training in placing implants are permitted to engage in implant dentistry and advertise that they perform this service. This makes it almost impossible for consumers to objectively evaluate a dentist’s qualifications to perform implant procedures.

Let’s be honest here folks, the average consumer can’t evaluate a politician, let alone a dentist.

In the 2009 Florida decision, Circuit Court Judge Frank E. Sheffield ruled that a state law restricting how dentists can advertise credentials issued by bona fide professional organizations is unconstitutional. The Florida statute prevented advertising of membership in or credentials earned from any dental organization not recognized by the Florida Board of Dentistry (FDB). Florida’s dental board only recognized specialty credentials issued by the ADA.

Dentists who wanted to advertise their AAID credentials had to include an onerous disclaimer that implant dentistry is not a recognized specialty of ADA or the FDB and that AAID is not a recognized specialty accrediting organization.

The Court decided the advertising restrictions were unconstitutional on many grounds. They violated the Florida constitution’s guarantee of the right to be rewarded for industry or professional achievement and First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of free speech and equal protection of the law.

In a clear and unequivocal verdict issued in 2010, Judge John Mendez, writing for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, ruled that credentials issued to dentists by AAID are bona fide and legitimate, and state laws that prohibit or restrict advertising them to the public are unconstitutional.

He struck down a state law that effectively prevented dentists from advertising credentials issued by AAID and said that AAID and the American Board of Oral Implantology (ABOI) “are bona fide credentialing organizations whose standards are rigorous, objectively clear, and verifiable.”

The Texas Board for Dental Examiners has not responded publicly yet to the AAID’s legal action.

What are your thoughts on dentists advertising their AAID credentials in implant dentistry?

Source: American Academy of Implant Dentistry

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