Morristown dentist Dr. Gary Stump will plead guilty to one count of health-care fraud, and the possibility exists he may escape federal prison time, according to court documents.
Stump admits he billed TennDent, a TennCare affiliate for patients 21 years old and younger, for nitrous oxide he never administered, according to his plea agreement, which was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Greeneville.
The 57-year-old dentist has also agreed to repay TennDent approximately $10,500, the amount he over-billed, as a means of putting the case behind him, his plea agreement states.
Another significant aspect of the deal is that Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Neil Smith will not oppose a probationary sentence. U.S. District Judge Leon Jordan will make that call when he sentences Stump on Sept. 24.
Stump’s defense attorney, Richard Talley, said Wednesday afternoon the best-case scenario for his client is to be granted probationary status both by the federal judge and the Tennessee Department of Health’s dentistry board.
If that happens, Talley says, Stump will be able to keep his practice. Talley says the regulatory board won’t take up Stump’s case until after the criminal case has been adjudicated.
Talley, who says he’s been in communication with state dentistry officials, says that’s likely to be in early 2014.
In 2003, the Tennessee Department of Health put Stump on probation for five years and imposed $7,000 in civil penalties after he admitted using nitrous oxide at work while patients were in his office.
In the criminal case, Stump received reimbursement from TennDent for nitrous-oxide treatments he did not give, according to his plea agreement.
“Dr. Stump would also direct his staff to make such false notations on the treatment records,” the plea agreement states.
Stump will plead guilty to one count of health-care fraud, but law enforcement officials identified multiple patients whose names were being used to bilk the government-run insurance program.
Claim records for TennDent patients who had allegedly received nitrous oxide were obtained from a provider, and 40 names were randomly selected.
The charts for those 40 patients were collected when the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant at Stump’s McCrary Drive office on Aug. 7, 2011, according to the federal prosecutor.
A TBI agent interviewed 14 patients whose records or claims indicated they had received nitrous oxide.
Ten indicated they had never received nitrous oxide, and three patients said they did not receive as many nitrous-oxide doses as the quantity for which Stump billed.
One patient said she received nitrous oxide several times but the gas “didn’t work,” the plea agreement states.
By Robert Moore, Tribune Staff Writer