2007-12-21 / Community

Pheffer,Weiner Get Agreement On Dental Records

The highly-publicized Select Dental office in Howard Beach was shuttered, leaving many patients without treatment, but with large credit card bills. Pictured, Congressman Weiner (left) and Assemblywoman Pheffer (right) with two of the victims of the closed facility. The highly-publicized Select Dental office in Howard Beach was shuttered, leaving many patients without treatment, but with large credit card bills. Pictured, Congressman Weiner (left) and Assemblywoman Pheffer (right) with two of the victims of the closed facility. Congressman Anthony Weiner, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, chair of the Assembly Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection, have secured an agreement with the U.S. Attorney's office to release the dental records of patients treated by Select Dental in Howard Beach. Those patients were victims of an apparent scam which is subject to an ongoing federal investigation. After the local dental office closed overnight, all contents of the building were held by the landlord, while the fraud investigation into the dental company was ongoing, leaving victims unable to gain access to their personal dental records.

The agreement among the U.S. Attorney, the Secret Service, which is the federal agency investigating the case, and the landlord of the building, provides that the U.S. Attorney will issue a court order to have the records transferred to the Secret Service, thereby protecting the legal rights of the landlord, who has no involvement in the case. The records will be taken to the Secret Service field office in New York, where patients can retrieve them.

In November, patients of Select Dental were surprised to find that the local dental office on Cross Bay Boulevard had vanished, leaving one local resident without his dentures. Worse still, many patients had taken out sizable loans for dental procedures through Select Dental's credit agency, or outside lenders. These patients are now responsible for paying off loans for dental services they will never receive or complete. According to published reports, a patient was approved for a $17,000 loan after being pushed by Select Dental to use a credit agency, even though he already had adequate credit. The patient went in for three appointments, only to find that when he went in for the fourth, Select Dental had closed - leaving him on the hook for thousands in loans for a procedure that was never done.

Patients who had tried to obtain their dental records had been informed that Select Dental is under federal investigation, and since the building has been deemed a crime scene, they did not have access to the building or its dental records. After being notified by constituents who had been scammed by Select Dental, Weiner and Pheffer were able to secure the release of the patients' records after reaching out to prosecuting U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of the Seventh Circuit U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago, freeing former Select Dental patients to get their dental work done elsewhere.

"The patients who have been victimized by this scam have been through enough," said Weiner. "I appreciate the efforts of everyone involved in helping these hard-working New Yorkers gain immediate access to their dental records so they can continue to get care elsewhere. We will continue to fight to ensure that these patients' rights are protected."

"It was very important that these records got back to the patients, and I applaud all those involved who worked hard to make this right," said Pheffer. "Consumers expect and deserve to know that when fraud has been committed, the government is on their side." Patients of Select Dental who need their records can contact Congressman Weiner or Assemblywoman Pheffer's office for more information on how to retrieve them.

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