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Dental hygienist behind bars for posing as a dentist

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IDAHO-Cherie R. Dillon, 62, will spend five years in prison for completing dental procedures that legally could only be performed by a dentist.

Dillon drilled and pulled teeth, provided patients with fillings and dentures, and offered other procedures that went far beyond her license as a dental hygienist. Dillon did not attend dental school and did not have a license beyond a hygienist’s. At the same time, she billed patients for dental hygiene services performed without the supervision and direction of a dentist, required under state law and licensing requirements.

Under a preliminary order, the Chief U.S. District Judge ordered Dillon to forfeit $847,016 in illegal proceeds and to pay $549,605 in restitution. A final order is expected to be issued following a hearing in August. Dillon pleaded guilty to two dozen counts of health care fraud and an equal number of counts of aggravated identity theft.

Dillon hired dentists to work for her on a part-time basis and took advantage of the condition of one of her contract dentists, Dr. Theodore Fricke, who became disabled from severe illness. Dillon fraudulently billed insurance companies for services she claimed were performed by Fricke, authorities said. She billed $1.5 million during those years. Prosecutors introduced evidence that Dillon renewed Fricke’s dental license and a license for prescribing controlled substances. She even completed online continuing education requirements for Fricke. Dillon carried on a ruse that Fricke continued to practice at her clinic.

If insurance companies had known treatments were billed by a dental hygienist working outside the scope of her license, they would not have paid for the treatments. The Idaho State Board of Dentistry pressured Dillon into surrendering her dental hygienist license after the allegations surfaced.


June 12, 2017

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