A Maryland dentist pleaded guilty on May 4 to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and healthcare fraud in a case involving at least $1.2 million in Medicaid fraud, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland.
Edward Buford III, owner and CEO of International Dental Associates (IDA) in Washington, DC, will be required to pay $1.2 million in restitution as part of his plea agreement, according to the release.
From January 2013 to May 2018, the 70-year-old dentist and others reportedly devised and executed a scheme to defraud Medicaid by filing fraudulent claims for dental services, receiving the fraudulently obtained funds, and recruiting Medicaid beneficiaries to fuel the scheme through the payment of kickbacks and bribes.
In April 2015, Medicaid suspended payments to Buford under his provider number. After the suspension, Buford and his business partner allegedly continued to submit claims to Medicaid through IDA's provider number. In April 2016, the pair reportedly enrolled IDA as a Medicaid provider again and failed to disclose Buford's suspension, according to the release.
As part of the conspiracy, Buford and his partner purportedly offered and paid kickbacks to patient recruiters who referred Medicaid beneficiaries to the practice. Knowing that Medicaid paid substantially more for dentures than other dental services, including dental cleanings, Buford and his accomplice allegedly paid larger cash kickbacks for beneficiaries who agreed to be fitted for dentures, according to the release.
Additionally, one patient recruiter, at the alleged direction of Buford and his partner, offered Medicaid beneficiaries cash bribes to induce them to visit and accept dental services from Buford's dental practice.
Beneficiaries who were fitted for dentures were only paid with bribes for one visit, so they never returned to the dental practice. Buford and his co-conspirators reportedly stored hundreds of undelivered dentures, which were billed to and paid for by Medicaid at his dental practice. The actual loss to Medicaid was at least $1,267,630, according to the release.
Buford faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in a U.S. prison.