Dentist convicted of breaking teeth sentenced to prison

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A Wisconsin dentist who reportedly used a drill to damage patients' teeth for insurance billing purposes was sentenced to 54 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million in forfeiture, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Formerly licensed dentist Dr. Scott Charmoli was convicted of healthcare fraud and related charges for a scheme in which he allegedly damaged patients' teeth so he could bill insurance for crowns instead of fillings. During his sentencing on July 15, Charmoli, who amassed significant assets from this scheme, was also ordered to pay $1,043,229, according to a press release dated July 18 from the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Within 90 days, the judge will determine the final amount of restitution Charmoli will pay to insurance companies and to patients who paid out-of-pocket expenses for the fraudulent crowns they received, the release stated. Additionally, former patients are suing Charmoli for malpractice, according to the release.

Prior to sentencing the 61-year-old dentist, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman noted that incarceration was necessary to reflect the seriousness of Charmoli's conduct, specifically that he had no "motive other than greed." Adelman also condemned Charmoli for "badgering" and "shaming" his patients, making them feel like "prey," physically harming them by intentionally damaging their teeth, thereby forcing them to lose trust in the dental profession, according to the release.

In March, the former dentist was convicted of five counts of healthcare fraud and two counts of making false statements following a U.S. grand jury trial. Charmoli, the former owner of Jackson Family Dentistry in Jackson, WI, reportedly billed insurance more than $4.2 million for these dental procedures between 2016 and 2019.

In 2015, Charmoli allegedly began aggressively selling patients on the need for crowns. After coaxing them into agreeing to the procedures, he used his dental drill to break patients' teeth, then took photos and x-rays of the damage. Charmoli presented the x-rays and photos to insurance companies as proof that the crowns were necessary and therefore eligible for reimbursement, according to the release.

Assuming the images and x-rays represented preoperative conditions, insurance companies paid Charmoli for the dental work. This led patients to pay significant copays for the unnecessary, more expensive crowns, according to the DOJ.

From 2016 to 2019, Charmoli performed more crown procedures than most dentists in Wisconsin. In 2015 and 2016, Charmoli performed more than 1,000 crown procedures each year. From 2017 to 2019, the dentist performed more than 700 crowns per year, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"Mr. Charmoli abused a position of trust and lied to his patients and their insurers simply to line his own pockets," Richard G. Frohling, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, said in the release. "Despite already having many advantages in life, Mr. Charmoli simply wanted more, and he was willing to harm his patients physically, emotionally, and financially to fund his lifestyle."

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