Md. dentist sentenced to federal prison for fraud

By Alex Dagostino, associate editor

November 28, 2022 -- Dr. Edward Buford III of Silver Spring, MD, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit mail and healthcare fraud, according to a November 18 press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland.

U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang also ordered Buford to pay more than $1 million in restitution. From January 2013 to May 2018, Buford reportedly led a scheme to file fraudulent Medicaid claims for dental services to beneficiaries and recruited beneficiaries through the payment of kickbacks and bribes, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Buford was a licensed dentist in Washington, DC and the owner and CEO of International Dental Associates (IDA), a dental clinic in DC. The U.S. Attorney's Office claims Buford fostered the submission of Medicaid claims for many dental services, including dentures, then paid kickbacks to patient recruiters for referring Medicaid beneficiaries to his practice. At Buford's request, patient recruiters offered bribes to beneficiaries to visit IDA for dental services.

Buford paid larger kickbacks to recruiters for beneficiaries who agreed to be fitted for dentures, the DOJ said. Typically, Buford paid recruiters about $50 per beneficiary and $20 to recruit beneficiaries who agreed to be fitted for dentures.

According to the plea agreement, while dentures require multiple visits to ensure a proper fit, Buford paid the recruiters and beneficiaries for only one visit, according to the DOJ. After one visit, Buford allegedly billed Medicaid for the dentures. Many beneficiaries never returned to IDA after receiving their bribe.

The DOJ claims that Buford stashed hundreds of undelivered dentures in his office. As part of his elaborate scheme, Buford kept a post office box in Silver Spring as IDA's billing address and received the fraudulent payments at that location.

Based on the amount that Medicaid paid to Buford and his practice for undelivered dentures, the loss to Medicaid totaled at least $1,267,630.

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