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A Boston area dentist recently pled guilty to defrauding Medicare for $130,000 between August 23, 2003 and June 2005. He also pled guilty to assault and battery of his patients after placing paperclips in his patients’ mouths instead of stainless steel posts used for root canals. He faces the possibility of decades in prison.

Michael Clair, age 53, filed false claims to Medicaid for the cost of standard stainless steel posts used for root canals and also submitted claims using other dentists’ identification numbers. He also pled guilty to prescribing powerful painkillers to his staff, such as Hydrocodone and Percocet. However, his staff gave back all or a majority of the painkillers. He entered the guilty plea on Friday, reversing an earlier not guilty plea he made in 2010.

A single count of Medicaid fraud carries a penalty of up to 5 years and each count of illegal prescribing of a controlled substance carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Authorities say that Claire used paperclips as a cheaper remedy for root canals, and while paperclips can be used as a temporary solution, they can lead to pain, infection and discomfort in the long run.

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