Martha Coakley (D)

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) -- Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has obtained a preliminary injunction against more than a dozen individuals and corporations that allegedly exploited dental patients in order to obtain funds from their insurers.

The injunction stems from a complaint filed last month in which the attorney general claims the dental clinics harmed hundreds of patients and left them with dental problems and thousands of dollars in debt after the defendants abandoned their operations in Fall River and Weymouth.

"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 in an earlier statement.

Judge Bruce Henry in Suffolk Superior Court this week ordered the defendants barred from engaging in any dental or medical business in the state. The judge also ordered them to disclose to Coakley all assets they own, including checking accounts, IRAs, trusts and real estate.

They also must close any other dental practices or clinics in which they have an interest.

The following defendants were charged with engaging in civil conspiracy, fraud and violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act:

-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 adviser, 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.

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