Crime

She drilled teeth but wasn’t a dentist. Now the U.S. wants its money back 3 times over

A Fruitland woman is in federal prison for practicing dentistry for years without a license in Payette. Here, a dentist removes a filling.
A Fruitland woman is in federal prison for practicing dentistry for years without a license in Payette. Here, a dentist removes a filling. Chicago Tribune

Federal prosecutors are seeking additional damages from an Idaho woman who acted as a dentist despite being licensed only as a dental hygienist.

Cherie R. Dillon, 62, of Fruitland, drilled and pulled teeth, provided patients with fillings and dentures, and offered other procedures that went far beyond her license at her Payette practice, Dental Healthcare With Heart.

She pleaded guilty in January to two dozen counts each of health care fraud and aggravated identity theft. She was sentenced in June to five years, which she is serving at a federal women’s prison in Dublin, California.

In October, Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ordered Dillon to forfeit $847,016, which represented all of the billings from her practice between 2010 and 2013. All of the billings were fraudulent, Winmill said, because she illegally performed dental procedures and her hygienist duties were carried out without required supervision from a dentist. Winmill also ordered Dillon to provide restitution of $139,770 to 11 insurance companies that were defrauded.

In a new complaint filed Dec. 5, federal prosecutors asked that Dillon be assessed three times the amount of actual damages for fraudulent Medicaid claims.

The complaint does not specify the amount sought. The restitution order listed $13,198 to Idaho Medicaid, $8,565 to Blue Cross of Idaho and $79,849 owed to DentaQuest. Three times the total of $101,612 would be $304,836.

The new complaint identifies Blue Cross of Idaho as the administrator of Idaho Smiles, the state’s Medicaid dental program, and DentaQuest, a Massachusetts insurer, as a subcontractor for the program.

Both Dillon and the federal government have appealed Winmill’s forfeiture and restitution order to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — Dillon seeking to reduce her restitution and the government seeking to increase it.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @JohnWSowell

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