A federal grand jury has indicted a Maryland dentist, his business partner, and another man on federal charges related to an alleged plot to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in Medicaid payments.
The indictment, which was unsealed on July 22, names Edward T. Buford III, 68, of Silver Spring, Maryland; Kasandra Vilchez-Duarte, 44, of Fort Washington, Maryland; and Donnie Amis, 63, of Washington, D.C., as the defendants. They are each charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and mail fraud as well as conspiracy to violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. They were released after their initial court appearances last Wednesday. Attorney information was not available at the time of writing.
According to the indictment, the trio conspired to defraud Medicaid of more than $8 million in claims collectively submitted between January 2013 and May 2018. Buford was a licensed dentist in Washington, D.C., where he was the owner of International Dental Associates (IDA). Vilchez-Duarte was his business partner and manager of the company. IDA was reportedly a Medicaid provider from July 2011 to present day, and Buford and Vilchez-Duarte are accused of fraudulently billing Medicaid for dental services provided to Medicaid beneficiaries.
The indictment claims that from January 2013 to May 2018, the pair paid Amis kickbacks to recruit Medicaid beneficiaries for their dental practice. To convince the beneficiaries to receive dental services from IDA, Amis allegedly offered them cash bribes. The defendants typically paid $20 to beneficiaries who agreed to be fitted for dentures and approximately $10 to beneficiaries who received dental cleaning. The beneficiaries were only paid for the initial visit, and many of them never returned after receiving the cash payment, the indictment claims. As a result, IDA reportedly stored hundreds of undelivered dentures which had already been paid for by Medicaid.
The indictment further claims that in April 2016, Buford and Vilchez-Duarte lied in IDA’s application for re-enrollment into Medicaid by failing to disclose Buford’s suspension from Medicaid. Buford was reportedly enrolled as an individual Medicaid provider until April 2015, when Medicaid suspended payments to his provider number. After the suspension, Buford and Vilchez-Duarte continued to submit claims to Medicaid using IDA’s Medicaid provider number.
From January 2013 to February 2015, Buford and Vilchez-Duarte submitted claims totaling $5.2 million to Medicaid using Buford’s individual provider number, sources indicate. Medicaid paid approximately $2 million of those claims. From February 2014 to May 2018, the defendants submitted $12 million in claims through IDA, while Medicaid paid an estimated $6.4 million.
If convicted, the defendants each face up to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and mail fraud. They also face a sentence of up to five years in federal prison for conspiracy to violate the federal anti-kickback statute.
Fraud charges are a serious offense with severe penalties. Anyone accused of committing fraud should therefore immediately consult an experienced defense attorney who can review the evidence and determine the best course of action.
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