Dentist who used paper clips gets year in jail


Associated Press

Posted on January 30, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Updated Monday, Jan 30 at 5:32 PM

FALL RIVER, Massachusetts (AP) — A former Massachusetts dentist was sentenced to one year in jail Monday for using paper clips instead of stainless steel posts in root canals.

Dr. Michael Clair pleaded guilty earlier this month to a list of charges, including assault and battery, defrauding Medicaid of $130,000, illegally prescribing medications and witness intimidation.

Prosecutors said Clair sometimes used sections of paper clips when performing root canals in an effort to save money. Some of his patients reported infections and other problems.

Brenda Almeida said her teenage son's tooth turned black and had to be removed after Clair performed a root canal on him in 2005. She said Clair also performed shoddy dental work on her other two children.

Almeida, who watched Clair get sentenced in Fall River Superior Court Monday, said she was angry about what she considers to be a light sentence.

"He put my kids in pain for months. ... I hope he rots there," she said after Judge Richard Moses sentenced Clair to a year in the Bristol County House of Correction.

Prosecutors asked for a sentence of five to seven years.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said Clair billed the Medicaid program for the costs of stainless steel posts and submitted false claims using other dentists' provider numbers.

Clair's lawyer, John Dingee, declined to comment.

Moses sentenced Clair to 2½ years, with all but one year suspended, followed by five years of probation.

Clair's license to practice dentistry was suspended in Massachusetts in 2006.