The 62-year-old Plainview, NY, resident pleaded guilty to two counts of healthcare fraud, a felony violation of the social services law, and one count of criminal tax fraud, according to a press release from the state attorney general and state comptroller. Dr. Bruckner's company, Premier Dental, also pleaded guilty to one count of grand larceny and a felony violation of the social services law.
Dr. Bruckner will pay nearly $700,000 in restitution and will serve up to three years in prison. He and his business also face a mandatory minimum five-year suspension from participation in the Medicaid and Medicare programs.
Dr. Bruckner, who ran a dental office in Bushwick since 2003 and another in Canarsie since 1988, submitted hundreds of false claims to the Medicaid program, according to investigators. The dentist and his company paid recruiters kickbacks to supply him and at least three other dentists with Medicaid patients at his offices.
The scheme occurred between 2007 and 2011; during that time, the majority of patients at those offices were brought in by recruiters. Dr. Bruckner and his business regularly paid the recruiters $25 to $30 kickbacks for each Medicaid recipient they brought in. They were often recruited from homeless shelters and soup kitchens and transported by van to his offices. Dr. Bruckner gave the recruiters $15 to $20 to pay the recipients at the conclusion of their visit.
In addition, the recruiters solicited Medicaid recipients on the sidewalk outside his practice and in a shared waiting room at the office used by other healthcare providers. Dr. Bruckner's clinics maintained log books to track which recruiter brought in each patient.
Dr. Bruckner also submitted fraudulent Medicaid claims for dental services allegedly performed at his offices by his son, Joseph Bruckner, DDS, when in fact his son never practiced at either of his father's offices, according to investigators. Medicaid paid the son $471,703 based on those false claims. The son transferred 90% of these payments to Dr. Bruckner and kept the remaining 10%.
Dr. Bruckner also arranged for at least three other dentists to work at one or both of his offices. Between 2007 and 2010, these other dentists paid Dr. Bruckner to generate Medicaid patients. Dr. Bruckner failed to report this income on his New York income tax returns.
Dr. Bruckner will pay restitution of $559,424 to the Medicaid program and $121,912 to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance prior to sentencing, which is scheduled for November 26, 2012.
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