(CBS/AP) FALL RIVER, Mass. - Dr. Michael Clair, a former dentist who substituted paper clips for stainless steel posts in root canals, was sentenced to one year in jail on Monday.
Clair pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges including assault and battery, illegally prescribing medication, witness intimidation and defrauding Medicare of $130,000.
Prosecutors say that Clair sometimes used pieces of paper clips while performing root canals. This caused infections and other problems in patients.
One woman said her teenage son's tooth turned black and had to be removed after Clair gave him a root canal in 2005.
"He put my kids in pain for months ... I hope he rots there," said Brenda Almeida after Judge Richard Moses sentenced Clair to a year in the Bristol County House of Correction.
Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of five to seven years, but Judge Richard Moses gave Clair two-and-a-half years, with all but one year suspended, plus five years of probation. The judge said he considered Clair's lack of a criminal record, "certain mental health issues" and acceptance of responsibility in handing down the sentence.
In a statement Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said Clair fraudulently billed Medicare for stainless steel posts while using office supplies on his patients to save money. Prosecutors said Clair was suspended by Medicaid in 2002 but continued to file claims between August 2003 and June 2005 by using the names of other dentists in his practice.
"The defendant physically and emotionally harmed his patients by taking advantage of the trust they placed in him as their dentist," Coakley said in a statement. "Mr. Clair brazenly cheated the Medicaid program and defrauded taxpayer dollars, billing for health care services he did not provide."
Prosecutors requested that Clair be ordered to stay away from his victims and seven people who worked in his office because former staff members "have expressed concern for their safety." Judge Moses granted the request.