Smile Starters, formerly known as Medicaid Dental Centers, first made the news in North Carolina in 2003. 10 years later, little that has changed, other than its name and signage.
Reporter, Diane Wilson, with the ABC affiliate in Raleigh-Durham, NC reports on continued fraudulent diagnosing practices Smile Starters Dental Centers in North Carolina. You can contact ABC’s “Troubleshooters” at firstname.lastname@example.org
Listen for the usual Medicaid dental mill “buzz” words and phrases, such as: “Corporate”,“Chief Dental Officer”, “Do Not Allow Parents Back with the Child” and “Lead Dentist”.
End of EyeWittness ABC Channel 11 Report
However unlikely it is for the North Carolina Dental Board to take action, it is still extremely important a complaint is filed and on record, so to speak. To file a complaint with the North Carolina Dental Board click here.
What they couldn’t tell you in the report:
Smile Starters and the dentists who work there, are very much familiar with the North Carolina Dental Board and visa-versa. With the new regulations in North Carolina on how dentists and management companies operate, maybe the dental board could take a look at Smile Starters and Root Dental Management and expose the truth behind the true ownership of Smile Starters Dental Centers.
Smile Starters Dental Centers have operated under Medicaid Dental Centers (MDC), North Carolina Dental Centers and Smile Starters. As reported above, Dr. Ralph Rivera was Smile Starters Chief Dental Officer under the prior ownership of Dr. Michael A. DeRose and Dr. Letitia L. (Tish) Ballance. Although it would be hard to prove outside a legal setting — where documents would have to be produced — I whole heartedly believe Michael A. DeRose sill owns and controls these dental clinics. Being that Michael A. DeRose has had his license revoked and is also listed on the governments LEIE (List of Excluded Individuals and Entities) list, it would be highly illegal for him to own a dental clinic or received monies from Medicaid or Medicare, directly or indirectly. If he maintains any ownership, it would have to be masked by a few layers of corporations, and the DeRose’s are good at that game, or at least think they are.
I personally believe Michael DeRose still owns these clinics because it is set up in the exact same manner as they were before he was nailed for the $10 million in North Carolina. HIs hand is not in the actual clinic’s cookie jar – it’s empty. The management company sweeps those bank account monthly. I believe Michael’s hand is in the “management” and “marketing” company’s cookie jar. Just like the Small Smiles dental centers and FORBA being the “management” and “marketing” company, which in essence owns each of the clinics.
|Prior to March 2008||After March 2008|
|Owner/s||Drs. Michael DeRose and Tish Ballance. (Tish Ballance, a NC local, joined with DeRose in October 2003. (Ballance & DeRose DDS, PA)||Ralph Rivera, DDS (DeRose and Ballance’s former Chief Dental Officer.)|
|Management Company aka (Corporate)||BBJ Dental Management (Michael DeRose’s relatives) BBJ = Bradley Bryson, Gary Bryson, Sharon Bryson and Daniel S. and Brenda Johnson. They have other names as well, including BBJ Enterprises, Inc., Fury Holdings and JBB Enterprises, Inc. All addressed at 2041 Silas Creek Parkway, Winston-Salem, NC — a Smile Starters Dental location. ||Root Dental Management – Ryan P. Root, President. Pueblo Colorado, where Michael DeRose lives and home of the original Small Smiles/FORBA Root is also a member of the DeRose’s “Friends of Football” organization, see page 23)|
Root Dental Management was created in February 2007, about the time the government investigation into fraud and abuse by DeRose/Ballance was started.
To further support my theory, documents at the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office shows Michael Anthony DeRose, DDS, PA (Professional Association), was created in June of 2001. In the Article of Incorporation it states he is delivering dental care and is duly license in the state of North Carolina. (he never treated one child there). Michael Anthony DeRose DDS, PA changed it’s name to Michael Anthony DeRose, Inc. in September 2009. In the 2009 amendment to the original Articles of Incorporation, he states his business is “General Business Marketing and Consulting”. He had to remove the DDS and PA since he no longer had “professional license” — Colorado took care of that, a few months prior; on June 9, 2009. (more on that below). It wasn’t until December 31, 2009 that DeRose changed the address of Michael Anthony DeRose, Inc. to a Colorado address. So, until effectively January 1, 2010, Michael Anthony DeRose, Inc. address remained one of the Smile Starter Dental locations. But I’m sure he just takes care of “marketing and “consulting” (sarcasm)
Ralph Rivera, DDS PLLC was created February 6, 2008, to “provide professional dental services” with the address the same as a Smile Starters location. Amazingly this company was created just a one month before Michael A. DeRose, DDS and Tish Balance, DDS reached an agreement to pay the $10 million to settle fraud allegations by the state of North Carolina and the Federal government in mid March 2008. (the press release was issued on April 9, 2008, but the agreement was weeks earlier). I would bet that Ralph Rivera, DDS PLLC has a contract with Root Dental Management (RDM) as well as some form of “buy/sale” agreement with either DeRose himself or a trusted affiliate, heck maybe Rivera is the trusted affiliate, after all he was the CDO of the DeRose/Ballance partnership. Whereby, Rivera can’t really sell any of the clinics to anyone other than who DeRose tells him to accept a minuscule check from. Just to make it appear somewhat legal, I would also bet Dr. Rivera wrote a check to DeRose for all those Smile Starter Dental clinics. Maybe a laughable amount of $100 a piece or maybe it was $50 to DeRose for each clinic and $50 to Ballance for each clinic. Heck, it could have been as little as $5 — $2.50 to each to DeRose and Ballance. Ralph Rivera is just the new “owner dentist” as Tish Ballance was prior.
Dental Board records in Colorado — where Dr. Michael DeRose actually resides — show is license as “retired” or “inactive”. Michael DeRose, was forced by the Colorado Dental Board to do so in the June 2009 agreement. In the Agreement, Michael DeRose agrees “not to apply for reactivation of his license or apply for a new license issued by the Board, at any time in the future”. It also states “such a permanent inactive status shall have the same force and effect as a revocation ordered by the board.” His license to practice dentistry was also revoked in other states, including North Carolina and Kansas all stemming from actions taken by the boards over complaints about his ability (standard of care) and ethics in the practice of dentistry. The North Carolina Actions starts on page 9 of the Kansas Action. He was first before the North Carolina Dental Board in December 2005.
Before loosing their license to practice dentistry, Michael DeRose, along with his father — Dr. Edward DeRose —and buddy, Dr. William Mueller spent a lot of time in front of investigative panels on many dental boards; each time over very serious abuse of patients and "standard of care” issues. In fact, they were so grossly negligent in their care and treatment of children; their “home state” of Colorado had to pass new regulations and criteria required before children could be strapped down for dental care using papoose boards.
The licenses of each of these jokers were eventually revoked, but far too late to save many children from the abuse that continues at dental clinics these three started; they are the founders of Small Smiles Dental Centers. Even some of their early protégées — Drs Pham and Tran — along with some private equity gangsters are the “founders” of Kool Smiles. Lawsuits against the DeRose family are still in the courts of New York and Colorado.
More reports on Smile Starters Dental Centers can be viewed here.