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Duluth dentist sentenced for defrauding Medicaid

A 61-year-old Duluth dentist was sentenced in Minneapolis federal court Monday for defrauding the Medicaid program of $50,000 between January 2006 and December 2008.

Michael Bussa was sentenced by U.S District Court Judge Joan Ericksen to four months of community confinement, an additional three months of home confinement, $50,000 in restitution and a $10,000 fine.

In addition to agreeing to pay $50,000 in restitution for his crime, Bussa also entered into a civil settlement agreement, paying an additional $50,000.

“Defrauding Medicaid steals from taxpayers and undermines confidence in a public health program designed to serve our neediest citizens,” said Assistant United States Attorney Chad Blumenfield, who prosecuted the case based on an investigation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General. “Medical professionals face criminal and civil penalties, exclusion from public health programs, and possible loss of license when they lie to Medicaid or Medicare. Bussa’s confinement, restitution obligation, criminal fine, civil payment, and other consequences of his crime are reflective of his offense against the public trust.”

From January 2006 until December 2008, Bussa was a dentist working in Duluth. Bussa’s clients included Medicaid recipients who qualified for provision of needed dental services.

Medicaid is funded jointly by federal and state taxpayers, and, along with Medicare, is one of the primary public health benefit programs in the United States.

In accepting Medicaid clients, Bussa was required to honestly and accurately bill Medicaid only for services actually performed. Instead, Bussa defrauded the Medicaid program for personal gain by lying about dental services provided. For example, Bussa would bill for services he did not actually perform and then receive payment from Medicaid for the phony claim.

Bussa had previously paid a $30,000 fine and served 2,000 hours of community service after pleading guilty in 2010 for willful tax evasion. He’d failed to pay more than $75,000 in taxes between 2003-05.