Crime

Fruitland dental hygienist accused of Medicaid fraud

Federal prosecutors have accused Cherie R. Dillon of health care fraud and aggravated identity theft tied to her Payette business, Dental Healthcare with Heart.

They say Dillon, 60, performed dental procedures that could only be carried out by a dentist. She also allegedly lied about being supervised by a dentist, instead performing diagnoses herself and directing contract dentists to carry out treatment programs that she said were drawn up by the nonexistent supervisor, according to an indictment issued earlier this month.

Dillon is charged with seven counts of health care fraud and seven counts of aggravated identity theft. The identity theft counts accuse Dillon of fraudulently billing insurance carriers for reimbursement using the credentials of a dentist who had not performed any work.

In an indictment issued Feb. 9, the government is also seeking reimbursement of $143,881 prosecutors say Dillon fraudulently obtained from Medicaid and nine other health insurance companies.

Dillon organized Dental Healthcare With Heart in August 2005, according to online records from the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office. She hired dentists to work for her on a part-time basis in exchange for giving them between one-quarter and one-third of the money received from health care benefit providers for the services carried out by the dentists.

One of the dentists, listed as “T.F.” in the indictment, became ill in July 2010 and stopped practicing dentistry. From January 2010 to Dec. 31, 2013, Dillon told the other dentists she contracted with that T.F. owned Dental Healthcare with Heart and he had performed examinations on the patients and developed the treatment plans given to those dentists, according to the indictment.

“Actually, Cherie R. Dillon performed the initial examinations, created the diagnoses and developed the treatment plans for the patients, not T.F.,” the indictment said.

Dillon, who was first licensed as a dental hygienist in Idaho in 1985, voluntarily surrendered her license, according to online records from the Idaho Board of Dentistry.

If convicted on the fraud charges, Dillon faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. Aggravated identity theft carries a two-year mandatory minimum sentence.

Dillon was arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Boise. Trial is set for April 18 before Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill.

The case was investigated by the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the Idaho Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell

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