Jacksonville dentist under investigation in connection with South Florida ‘Tooth Fairy Heist’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville dentist is under investigation tied to an alleged multi-million-dollar scheme to defraud Medicaid in South Florida, nicknamed the “Tooth Fairy Heist”.


The Tooth Fairy Heist captured numerous headlines in South Florida after five dental clinic workers were arrested and charged in connection with an alleged Medicaid fraud scheme totaling nearly $2.3 million over six months in 2022.

Those charges were dropped in November, but the investigation continues here in Northeast Florida.

Dr. Howard Fetner, a local dentist, was also accused of playing a role in the alleged scheme by the Florida Department of Financial Services.

That scheme allegedly involved billing Medicaid for services never rendered and using billing codes assigned to other dentists working for ACPDO Management Inc.

When several dentists began raising concerns, DFS alleges Fetner fired them.

“If the government can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual we’re speaking about here intentionally did this, then it’s a prosecutable case,” said Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson.

Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson explained that Fetner has not been officially charged with any crimes and it will be up to the state attorney to investigate and determine whether to pursue charges.

“Typically, these matters are resolved economically. In other words, it’s determined that there’s been a mis-billing of say a million dollars, which does happen in large group medical practices, and the result is that Medicare Medicaid, the state side, simply asks for the money back,” said Carson.

Dan Gelber, an attorney for ACPDO, pushed back on the DFS allegations.

“These allegations have at least twice now been presented to different state-level prosecutorial offices in Florida, all of which ultimately found the allegations without merit. Importantly, the parties who continue this unseemly venue shopping, are seeking to gain leverage in a civil lawsuit where they stand to make millions,” said Gelber in an emailed statement to Action News Jax.

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In late February, local State Attorney Melissa Nelson requested her office be recused from the investigation, citing conflicts within the office, as several members of her staff had received dental care from Fetner’s family members and attorneys on her team were friends with Fetner and his wife.

The case was reassigned by the Governor to the State Attorney of the Eight Judicial Circuit in Gainesville in late March.

Carson said that would allow the investigation to move forward without issue.

“Hopefully they will do and conduct further investigations, further inquiry into this, and determine based on that whether or not the Gainesville state attorney who is now replacing the local state attorney can actually prosecute the case,” said Carson.

Under the Governor’s order, the Eighth Circuit will have until March 27 of next year to decide whether or not to bring charges against Fetner, though Carson noted that window could be extended if requested.

Action News Jax attempted to contact Dr. Fetner by calling his office and emailing him personally for this story, but did not hear back.

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