Coakley

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is attacking more than a dozen individuals and corporations that allegedly exploited dental patients to steal money from their insurers.

Coakley filed suit last week in Suffolk Superior Court against dental clinics that allegedly harmed hundreds of patients. Judge Carol Ball has already issued a temporary restraining order that secures any assets the defendants may have.

"Many consumers thought they were going for a routine trip to the dentist and left these clinics in worse shape, both physically and financially, than when they walked in the door," Coakley said.

"Our office filed this lawsuit to ensure that these defendants can never again exploit Massachusetts citizens in need of dental care and we intend to seek relief for the many people already hurt by these unconscionable practices."

Coakley said patients were left with dental problems and debt after the defendants abandoned their three dental operations in Fall River and Weymouth.

According to a press release from Coakley, the defendants are:

-Gary Anusavice, a dentist who took and maintained a leadership role in creating and operating the defendants' scheme;

-Michael Rinaldi, Joseph Robbio, Vincent O'Neill and Heather Pavao, all finance advisors and business managers at the dental operations.
Dr. Merhad Haghkerdar, a dentist that facilitated the defendants' scheme at Spectrum Dental;

-LHT Systems (d/b/a Sierra Dental), a corporate entity formed by defendants in August 2004;

-Coast Dental, Inc., a Delaware corporation, which maintained a principal place of business in Fall River;

-Dr. Wood, Inc. (d/b/a/ Sierra Dental), a corporate entity formed by defendants in June 2006;

-Electron Marketing Inc. (d/b/a Spectrum and Coast Dental), a corporate entity formed by the defendants in September 2002; Anusavice acted as the president, treasurer and director of Electron;

-William E. Salisbury Inc. (d/b/a Sierra Dental), a corporate entity formed by the defendants in December 2005;

-JX Marketing Inc. (d/b/a Sierra Dental), a corporate entity formed by the defendants in March 2006;

-R.P. Systems Inc. (d/b/a Sierra Dental), a corporate entity formed by the defendants in May 2004;

-Arvydas Inc., a corporate entity formed by the defendants in October 2005; and

-Vyntautus Inc., a corporate entity formed by the defendants in March 2004.

The complaint says the defendants marketed free dental exams and low monthly payment plans to potential customers with inadequate health insurance.

A finance advisor, paid on commission, pushed the customer into undergoing the exam and then proposed more extensive treatment to generate larger fees, Coakley said. She added that sometimes the treatment was unnecessary.

Instead of low monthly payments, the loans carried interest rates as high as 22.98 percent, the complaint says, and the insurance companies of patients with dental insurance were given false and inflated claims.

In Dec. 2007, the operation ceased and left behind its patients' dental records, she says. Coakley said she received more than 200 complaints.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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