Edward Buford pleads guilty to illegally obtaining Medicaid funds

A Silver Spring dentist has pleaded guilty to illegally obtaining Medicaid funds and referring medical beneficiaries to his practice in exchange for bribes, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Edward T. Buford III, 70, of Silver Spring pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and health care fraud, according to a news release.

Buford owned the International Dental Associates, Inc., clinic in Washington, DC, and was registered as a Medicaid provider before 2015, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Between January 2013 and May 2018, Buford and others filed fraudulent Medicaid claims for dental services to Medicaid beneficiaries, according to Buford’s guilty plea. They then received Medicaid money and recruited Medicaid recipients to “fuel the program by paying kickbacks and kickbacks.”

Buford’s Medicaid provider number was suspended in 2015, and at that time he and a business partner continued to submit claims through the partner’s provider number, according to the plea. The two re-registered as a Medicaid provider in 2016, but did not disclose Buford’s suspension from Medicaid, the plea says.

Buford and other “co-conspirators” offered and paid bribes to other conspirators and patient recruiters in return for directing Medicaid recipients to the practice of dentures and other services dental, according to the plea.

One of the co-conspirators offered cash bribes to Medicaid recipients to get them to visit and accept dental services from Buford’s office, under the direction of Buford and another conspirator, according to advocacy. Buford and other conspirators billed Medicaid for dentures, and they stored the dentures at the dental office, “many of which had been billed and paid for by Medicaid,” according to the plea.

Buford fraudulently received Medicaid funds in a U.S. post office box in Silver Spring, which he used as his firm’s billing address, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In one case from September 2017, Buford obtained a Medicaid check for more than $17,000 “for services allegedly provided to 11 Medicaid recipients,” according to the plea.

The loss to Medicaid was more than $1.2 million, based on the total amount Medicaid paid Buford and his practice for dentures that were not delivered, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. As part of Buford’s plea, he must pay that amount in restitution.

Buford will be sentenced Aug. 3 and faces up to 20 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Michael Lawlor, an attorney who represents Buford, declined to comment on Bethesda Beat on Friday.

Dan Schere can be contacted at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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