Wisconsin Dentist Guilty of Damaging Patients Teeth to Make Money
Wisconsin dentist Scott Charmoli was found guilty of five charges of healthcare fraud and two counts of making false claims about his clients’ treatment, after he purposefully damaged his patients’ teeth to rake in millions from insurance companies. According to prosecutors, Charmoli began pressuring his patients in 2015 into getting unnecessary crowns, a dental procedure where a tooth-shaped cap is placed on a damaged tooth. However, Charmoli himself would drill or break his client’s teeth and then send X-rays of the intentional damage to insurance companies to justify the procedures.
Between 2015 to 2019, Charmoli billed more than $4.2 million for tooth crowns and performed more crowns than 95% of other dentists in Wisconsin. By the end of 2020, Charmoli had over $6.8 million worth of assets. Charmoli’s schemes were only discovered when he sold his dental practice in 2019 and the new owners reported him to authorities after noting the high rate of crown procedures. Charmoli claims he is only guilty of “hard work.”
Wisconsin suspended Charmoli’s dental license in February 2021, pending disciplinary action. Charmoli faces up to sixty years in prison at his sentencing in June. These cases are set to begin once his criminal case in federal court has ended.
What Can Charmoli’s Patients Claim?
Charmoli is also subject to civil lawsuits by almost a hundred of his former patients. Prosecutors at his criminal trial argued that some of these patients were vulnerable persons living paycheck to paycheck, including cancer survivors and recent widows. These former patients could claim battery, fraud, and medical malpractice for Charmoli’s conduct.
Medical malpractice is a form of negligence whereby a medical professional deviates from the standard of care that a reasonable professional would otherwise take. While intentionally injuring a patient is not negligence, it is still not an act a reasonably competent medical professional would take. All physicians, including dentists, take an oath to do no harm; purposefully drilling holes into a patient’s mouth without their knowledge is doing harm.
Similarly, Charmoli’s intentional drilling is a form of battery against his patients. Battery is unconsented touching of another person. His patients might have consented to Charmoli cleaning and fixing issues with their teeth, but they did not consent to him purposefully creating holes in their teeth.
Finally, Charmoli has committed fraud not just against the insurance companies, but also against each patient that he “overcharged” for his “work.” Charmoli lied to his patients and them believe they had more dental issues than they actually had. Those patients trusted that they had diagnosed their issues correctly rather than creating them.
Charmoli’s criminal conviction will make it much easier for his former patients to recover damages. A criminal conviction requires evidence of wrongdoing beyond a reasonable doubt while civil liability is imposed at a lower standard, typically clear and convincing evidence. Since Charmoli has already been convicted guilty of fraud under a higher standard, the patients can use the criminal conviction to establish liability in their own civil suits.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you have sustained a personal injury through the unlawful act of another, then you should contact a personal injury attorney. A skilled personal injury lawyer near you can review the facts of your case, go over your rights and options, and represent you in court.