2022 | Courts

Dentist from Silver Spring pleads guilty to unlawfully obtaining Medicaid funds

He must pay more than $1.2 million in restitution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office

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A dentist from Silver Spring has pleaded guilty to unlawfully obtaining Medicaid funds and referring medical beneficiaries to his practice in exchange for kickbacks, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Edward T. Buford III, 70, of Silver Spring pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and healthcare fraud, according to a press release.

Buford owned the clinic International Dental Associates, Inc., in Washington, D.C., and was enrolled as a Medicaid provider prior to 2015, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Between January 2013 and May 2018, Buford and others filed fraudulent Medicaid claims for dental services to Medicaid beneficiaries, according to Buford’s guilty plea. They then received money from Medicaid and recruited the Medicaid beneficiaries to “fuel the scheme through the payment of kickbacks and bribes.”

Buford’s Medicaid provider number was suspended in 2015, and at that point he and a business partner continued to submit claims through the partner’s provider number, according to the plea. The two re-enrolled as a Medicaid provider in 2016, but did not disclose Buford’s suspension from Medicaid, according to the plea.

Buford and other “co-conspirators” offered and paid kickbacks to other conspirators and patient recruiters in exchange for referring Medicaid beneficiaries to the practice for dentures and other dental services, according to the plea.

One of the co-conspirators offered cash bribes to Medicaid beneficiaries to get them to visit and accept dental services from Buford’s practice, at the direction of Buford and another conspirator, according to the plea. Buford and other conspirators billed Medicaid for dentures, and they stored the dentures at the dental practice, “many of which had been billed to and paid for by Medicaid,” according to the plea.

Buford fraudulently received funds from Medicaid at a U.S. Post Office box in Silver Spring, which he used as his practice’s billing address, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In one instance from September 2017, Buford obtained a check from Medicaid for more than $17,000 “for services purportedly provided to 11 Medicaid beneficiaries,” according to the plea.

The loss to Medicaid was more than $1.2 million, based on the total amount that Medicaid paid to Buford and his practice for dentures that were not delivered, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. As part of Buford’s plea, he must pay that amount in restitution.

Buford will be sentenced Aug. 3 and faces up to 20 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Michael Lawlor, an attorney who represents Buford, declined to comment to Bethesda Beat on Friday.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com