Keep in mind they admitted no guilt to the claims but agreed to pay $8.45M to settle the issue. They are currently still in operation and open for business; which is scary once you read the allegations. You can read the entire Complaint by clicking here. Buyer Beware!! Never take your children to any of these clinics! EVER!
Civil Action Number: 3:12-cv-02126-P
Filed: September 26, 2012
Settlement reached: December 27, 2016 (when the Corporate Integrity Agreement was signed)
CHRIS STEVEN VILLANUEVA, Individually and as member/managing member of Defendant companies;
TRUNG MINH TANG, Individually and as member/managing member of Defendant companies;
MAURICIO DARDANO, Individually and as member/managing member of Defendant companies;
MB2 DENTAL SOLUTIONS, PLLC;
DENTAL PROFESSIONALS OF TEXAS, PLLC;
VILLANUEVA UNIVERSAL ENTERPRISES, LLC;
PEPPERMINT DENTAL, PLLC;
ARCHSTONE DENTAL, PLLC;
PICASSO DENTAL, PLLC;
DENTAL FAMILY CIRCLE, PLLC;
VILLANUEVA PLAZA, LLC;
PEPPERMINT DENTAL-MCKINNEY, PLLC;
DFW FDC-REDBIRD, PLLC;
PICASSO DENTAL-MANSFIELD, PLLC;
ARCHSTONE DENTAL-BEACH, PLLC;
VIVA ORTHODONTICS, PLLC;
PICASSO DENTALCORSICANA, PLLC;
CHRISS VILLANUEVA DENTAL, PA; DFW-FDC, PA;
CROWN NOW DENTAL, PLLC;
MINT REALTY, LLC;
LEGEND DENTAL, PLLC;
ARCHSTONE DENTALGRANBURY, PLLC;
PEPPERMINT DENTALGREENVILLE, PLLC;
CRESCENT DENTAL, PLLC;
FRESH DENTAL, PLLC;
ELEMENT DENTAL, PLLC;
BLISS DENTAL, PLLC; SAGE DENTAL, PLLC;
BLISS DENTAL-MIDLAND, PLLC;
SAGE DENTAL-DEER PARK, PLLC;
CRESCENT DENTAL-SAN MARCOS, PLLC;
ELEMENT DENTAL-BRYAN, PLLC;
ELEMENT DENTAL-CONROE, PLLC;
SAGE DENTALPEARLAND, PLLC;
SAGE DENTAL-PASADENA, PLLC;
TIDE DENTAL-CORPUS CRISTI, PLLC;
SPEARMINT DENTALWITCHITA FALLS, PLLC;
SCARLET PEGASUS GROUP, LLC;
FRESH DENTAL-LONGVIEW, PLLC;
LEGEND DENTAL-GEORGETOWN, PLLC;
WOW DENTAL-OAK CLIFF, PLLC;
BLISS DENTAL-LUBBOCK, PLLC;
GALAXY DENTAL-GARLAND, PLLC;
PEACH TREE DENTAL-CARROLLTON, PLLC;
ARCHSTONE DENTAL-HULEN, PLLC;
IRVING TOWN CENTER DENTAL, PLLC;
SOUTHERN GEM DENTAL, PLLC; LUCKY DENTAL, PLLC;
CRESCENT DENTAL-INGRAM, PLLC;
ELEMENT DENTAL-SPRING, PLLC;
VIDA DENTAL, PLLC;
GULFSIDE DENTAL BEAUMONT, PLLC;
DENTAL CENTERS, PLLC;
PEPPERMINT DENTAL MCKINNEY, PLLC; DENTAL CENTRAL, PLLC;
ARCHSTONE DENTAL-WEATHERFORD, PLLC;
PEPPERMINT DENTAL-SHERMAN, PLLC;
PEPPERMINT DENTAL-LEWISVILLE, PLLC;
ELEMENT DENTAL-HUMBLE, PLLC;
ELEMENT DENTAL-TOMBALL, PLLC;
BALENTIMES HOLDINGS, LTD.,
PEPPERMINT DENTAL-MONTGOMERY, LLC,
PEPPERMINT DENTAL-RIO BRAVO, LLC,
PEPPERMINT DENTAL-SAN MATEO, LLC,
RED ROCK DENTAL-FARMINGTON, LLC,
FRESH DENTAL-BOSSIER CITY, PLLC,
FRESH DENTAL-SHREVEPORT, PLLC;
Dental Professionals of Texas=DPT now known as MB2
Relator = Whistleblower
Dental Practices = DP
…This action is also brought under the qui tam provisions of the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Law, V.T.C.A., Hum. Res. Code Ann. §36.001 on behalf of the State of Texas, the Louisiana Medical Assistance Programs Integrity Law, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§46:439.1 et seq.; 438.3 on behalf of the State of Louisiana and the New Mexico Medicaid False Claims Act N.M. Stat. Ann§§ 27-14-1 et seq.on behalf of the State of New Mexico.
Kevin Howard Byington ("Byington") is and was in the marketing department for DPT. Byington works directly for Frank Villanueva, Defendant Chris Villanueva's brother and head of the marketing Division of DPT. Byington and Frank Villanueva were responsible for recruiting willing marketers and paying them kickbacks for locating likely Medicaid families with children eligible for dental services and referring those patients and their families to the DP defendants.
When DPT's kickback scheme was aired by Dallas news stations, Byington formed KHB Community Outreach Associates, LLC. This was done at the request of Defendants, including DPT (a/k/a MB2), Villanueva and Tang, to cover up and conceal the illegal kickback solicitation scheme.
Frank Villanueva is the brother of Defendant Chris Steven Villanueva and the person primarily responsible for obtaining illegal referrals and direct solicitation of patients for the Defendants. He is and was an employee of DPT (now MB2) and was the person who hired Relator, coercively persuaded her to accept the "promotion" to work for KHB Community Outreach Associates, LLC and coordinated the kickback payments to the referring marketers and the Medicaid parents or family members.
Ann Villanueva, the sister of Defendant Chris Steven Villanueva, is and was the Human Resources Director for DPT (now MB2) and the DP defendants. She assisted in the recruitment of dentists and other staff and paraprofessionals for the dental offices of DP defendants and for DPT.
Mary Pu is Trung Tang's wife and the Vice President of Finance for Dental Professionals of Texas, PLLC (now MB2). In her position, Pu was knowledgeable about the illegal billing practices, the solicitation of patients, and the budgeted "promotion accounts" for every practice which were actually used for kickback payments. She was and is responsible for the entire accounting team.
John Steen is the Chief Financial Officer of DPT. Steen is shown as the "Authorized Agent" for DPT in signing the February 23, 2012 Certificate of Amendment to the Certificate of Formation of Dental Professionals of Texas, PLLC changing the name to MB2 Dental Solutions, PLLC. Steen ostensibly served as "compliance officer" for Medicaid and in
October 2011 he and a "team" consisting of his daughter, Audrey Steen, and one other person allegedly "audited" the various DP Defendants to assure Medicaid compliance. These "audits" were intentionally superficial and incomplete, and were actually intended to conceal the ongoing illegal practices.
Gabriel Shahwan is a dentist and a senior member of DPT, a member of MB2 and has an ownership interest in the Archstone's Ft. Worth practices, Sage offices in Houston and Crescent practices. He is familiar with the kickbacks paid to patient solicitors and to patients and their families for referrals, as well as the overbilling and over-treating of patients.
Akhil Reddy is a dentist and senior member of DPT and has an ownership interest in the Fresh Dental, Bliss and Picasso practices. He is familiar with the kickbacks paid to solicitors and to patients and their families for referrals and the overbilling and over-treating of patients.
Sang Trang is and was a dentist working in the Fresh practices.
Andrea Salazar is and was a dentist working in the Bliss practices.
Paul Schahwan is and was a dentist working in the Crescent practices.
Other dentists include Conrad Creed, Brian Hassler and Quinton Parks.
Cynthia Thomas was an employee of Wow Dental - Oakcliff, PLLC. In addition to her office work, she solicited patients with kickbacks. As a kickback payment for illegally soliciting and "referring" more than 100 patients per month, Thomas received several television sets, two laptop computers, IPods, an Xbox and PlayStations for her home. These were given to her by Frank Villanueva and Kevin Byington.
Villanueva and Tang, classmates at dental school, devised a scheme to defraud the federal government and State of Texas by illegally paying kickbacks to "marketers" who referred patients to the various dental practices owned, managed, operated and funded by Villanueva, Tang and at times Dardano.
In an attempt to insulate themselves from the scheme, Villanueva,Tang and Dardano created a number of professional limited liability companies and limited liability companies, including the "management" company known initially as Dental Professionals of Texas, PLLC and changed … to MB2 Dental Solutions, PLLC.
…the scheme involved a large cadre of solicitors whose job was to recruit Medicaid patients and refer them to Villanueva and Tang's dental practices. These workers were initially paid a set amount (kickback) for every Medicaid patient referred. In addition, additional payments and "gifts" were paid whenever a worker brought more than 100 Medicaid patients into the dental practice defendants' offices in any month. These additional payments ranged from cash to Xbox games, IPods, televisions and other desirable electronics.
Every dental practice defendant used these paid workers to solicit referrals for their dental practice. The payment was only made if the Medicaid patient actually registered at the dental office and received "services." These kickbacks were paid by check through DPT. The additional kickbacks, such as the gifts described above, were paid by DPT as well.
Frank Villanueva and Kevin Byington actually handed out the "bonus" kickbacks to the workers who provided more than 100 referrals per month.
One recipient of these "bonus" kickbacks was Cynthia Thomas who initially worked for Wow dental and later Texas Community Outreach. She received various expensive electronic kickbacks for referring more than 100 patients per month. She routinely exceeded this referral quota and accepted money and electronics for her performance.
This process of soliciting referrals for patients was successful because of the kickback payments to patients and their families. Parents of potential Medicaid dental patients were paid kickbacks to bring their children to the Defendants and family members were paid to refer other family members and additional children.
Each dental practice office had a budgeted line item for "promotions" which was used to purchase the kickback items given to family members. These kickbacks ranged from food to Wal-Mart gift cards, certificates for free manicures/pedicures, IPod Shuffles and other "gift" items.
…the two Wow Dental offices, these offices had a monthly budget for "promotions" in the thousands of dollars per month per office. Other DP Defendant offices had a similar budget. The funds for legitimate advertising, signs and banners did not come out of this fund, which was used solely to pay kickbacks to Medicaid patients and their families.
Although these defendant dental practices continued to treat self-pay and PPO patients, between eighty-five to ninety percent (85%-90%) of all patients at DP offices were in the Medicaid program.
As a result of the kickback schemes, the dental offices of the Defendants were so busy and crammed with patients that the wait to see a dentist were often long. Patients and their families were provided food and beverages to compensate them for the wait to be seen by a dentist.
Dentists hired to work in DP offices were paid based upon the billings they generated and received a percentage of the "take." This system was intended to and did encourage these dentists to see a far greater number of Medicaid patients each day than proper dental care would permit. It also encouraged providing Medicaid children medically unnecessary and unreasonable dental treatment to increase billings.
Villanueva, Tang, DPT and the other Defendants knew that the billings were fraudulent based on the sheer numbers of patients "treated" daily and monthly billings, together with the enormous services billing per patient. DPT submitted these billings for all of the DP defendants to Medicaid.
In order to establish a competition between dental practices, DPT allowed all of the dental practice offices to know the number of patients and daily billings of other dental practice offices. There was constant pressure from "corporate" (meaning from Villanueva, Tang and DPT and their employees) to increase "production" which included increasing the numbers of patients seen daily and the amount of "services" billed for each patient.
All of the staff and dentists working for Defendants knew that Medicaid would pay up to $2,000 for dental care for a Medicaid patient. With that goal in mind, DPT and DPs sought to maximize billings up to that amount for every patient-whether they needed the dental work or not.
Particularly illustrative is one day at Wow Dental when Relator was the office manager. On September 16, 2011 there were three dentists present at the practice. Office hours were 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. weekdays. On that one day Wow Dental dentists billed for treating ninety (90) Medicaid patients. The total billing for that day was more than sixty-three thousand dollars ($63,000), averaging about seven hundred dollars ($700) per patient. The average amount of time that a dentist spent with a patient9 was 16 minutes. The work that was billed to Medicaid for each patient - including multiple fillings, crowns and other expensive procedures. would have been physically impossible to perform in any given day.
Dentists and staff were directed by DPT employees that all possible treatment should be provided/or billed on the first visit because Medicaid patients could switch dentists at will and might not return. Given the tortuous treatment that each child received, it was assumed that the patient would not return to this office for any additional dental services. As a result, there was constant pressure to maximize billings and income for defendants and dentists.
On that one day described above, the Wow dental practice billed more than Chris Villanueva Dental, PA which was normally the highest billing practice. As a result of the enormous numbers of patients at each of the Defendant DPs, Medicaid requirements for identification and documentation were frequently ignored. This includes Defendants' failure to obtain proper identification of the purported Medicaid patient, failure to create or maintain patient charts and failure to obtain proper consent forms for treatment.
The Defendants routinely performed work in all four quadrants of a Medicaid child's mouth on the first visit, billing for four quadrant treatments and services.
…Dentists working at Wow and other DP defendants frequently told staff, that they needed to treat an identified number of patients per day in order to make enough money to pay off a personal payment or bill.
Dentist Christopher Duong (TX License No. 27538) who had gotten a traffic ticket and insisted that he needed to bill at least $10,000 that day so that he could pay the fine.
By October 2011, a news station in Dallas had begun a series of reports on the payments of kickbacks for patients in the Dallas/Ft. Worth areas of Texas. As a result of that publicity, Defendants decided to modify their kickback scheme. The executives of DPT, including Frank Villanueva, created a "new" entity, KHB Community Outreach Associates, LLC ("KHB") which was known as Texas Community Outreach Associates. Byington was listed as the owner of KHB.
The purpose of creating KHB was to disguise the illegal kickback nature of the business - exactly the same marketeering and referral scheme developed by Defendants previously. The only difference is that DPT contracted with KHB to provide services. KHB is and was operated from the same office as DPT/MB2. Large numbers of workers worked for KHB to directly solicit and refer patients to Defendants. KHB had only one "customer" - and that was DPT/MB2.
KHB employees wore "community outreach" tee shirts and continued the practices of illegal patient referrals. These workers were paid on an hourly basis by KHB.
KHB paid these workers from an account at Bank of America that was funded by Villanueva, Tang and Dardano through DPT. The initial deposit was about one-million dollars ($1,000,000).
The attempt to disguise the referral workers as unrelated to DPT and the other Defendants is easily unveiled by reviewing the KHB printout from ADP's payroll register.
Under each worker's name is a code for "Dept:" and the name of the specific dental practice office for which illegal referrals were made by the worker. For example, under Lopez, Patricia it shows "Dept: ARCHBCH" which reflects that this worker received kickbacks for referrals to Defendant Archstone DentalBeach, PLLC. Another example is Cavazos, Michelle whose Dept is shown as B-LUBB which reflects that she provided illegal referrals to Defendant Bliss Dental-Lubbock, PLLC.
Although the kickbacks are shown as hourly wages and are paid through "middleman" KBH, the Defendants paid these kickbacks in violation of the FCA and Anti-kickback provisions of federal and Texas law.
As the news station's "investigation" of Medicaid dental practices in Texas continued, Villanueva and Tang together with the DPT/MB2 senior staff are improvising new schemes to obtain referrals. Additionally these Defendants employed similar schemes in the States of Louisiana and New Mexico where they opened practices to continue the scheme out of the limelight cast by the Texas publicity.
As a result of the payment of illegal kickbacks to "professional" marketers and to patients and their families, KHB and the Defendants grossed more than one hundred million dollars in Medicaid billings for 2011.
Villanueva, Tang and Dardano through various DPs and other companies have considerable real and personal assets such as real estate, including the property upon which the DPs are located.
…these Defendants have moved substantial funds into the names of family members and others in an attempt to secret those funds from the government.
The United States is entitled to three times the amount by which it was damaged, to be determined at trial, plus a civil penalty of not less than $5,500 and not more than $11,000 for each false claim paid or approved.
Defendants did not, within thirty days after they first obtained information as to such violations, furnish such information to officials of the State responsible for investigating false claims violations, did not otherwise fully cooperate with any investigation of the violations, and have not otherwise furnished information to the State regarding the claims for reimbursement at issue.
$8.45M is nothing to these criminals. They should all be under the jail, not living in palacious estates like Dr. Trung Minh Tang’s home below:
I was recently shown a screen capture where Olivia Griffin of Dallas posted on her Facebook page wanting her friends to send her a private message to collect $40 to take their kids to a certain dentist in Dallas area. Seems little has changed.