Dentist Used Paper Clips for Root Canals, Faces 15 Years in Prison

A dentist has been formally charged for conducting a Medicare scam, in addition to prescribing painkillers to staff members and submitting patients to paper clip root canals.

Clair has been charged with assault and battery, three counts of larceny, five counts of Medicaid fraud, three counts of illegally prescribing controlled substances and one count each of tampering with evidence and witness intimidation.

Investigators were aware of Clair's abusive treatment of patients and fraudulent practices for four years before they were able to get an indictment.

The dentist had scammed Medicare for over $130,000 out of his New Harbour Mall office in Fall River, Massachusetts. Although Clair had already been declined the right to receive Medicare patients, authorities claim that he used standard root-canal posts and submitted Medicare claims using other dentists' identification numbers.

Authorities also accused Clair of attempting to save money by using pieces of paperclips in place of stainless steel posts, as a permanent fix in root canals. The result of the usually temporary solution can lead to infection, discomfort and pain.

One of Clair's patients who had a root canal done in Clair's office in 2005, told Boston's WCVB that he still feels pain "When I chew food it, like, hurts, and like, when something's cold, it hurts even more," Joshua Almeida, 20, said.

The patient reported in 2010 that the paper clip root canal that he received in 2005 was a source of constant concern. "I get toothaches all the time, like, I still have one in my mouth right now. I still have a cap in my mouth with a paper clip in it," said Almeida.

Brenda Almeida, the patient's mother, was still dazed about the care that her son received. "For what he did to my kids I'm like shocked that he ever did something ... I never expected him to go this far, especially with a paper clip," she said.

Clair pleaded guilty Friday, after a not guilty plea in 2010, and could face up to 15 years in prison.