Knoxville dentist Buzz Nabers has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit health care fraud, will spend six months in prison, six months in home detention, one year on probation, pay $249,600.02 in restitution and a fine of $22,128, the U.S. Department of Justice announced March 10.
Nabers, 56, was accused in 2019 of improperly sterilizing dental equipment, forging certification documents and using unqualified employees to perform work reserved for dentists, like filling cavities and placing permanent crowns.
The Tennessee Board of Dentistry fined Nabers $11,000 and placed him on probation after an investigation.
Nabers closed his office on Gay Street in downtown Knoxville in late 2020 after the allegations were first reported, but continues to operate his practice on Thunderhead Road in West Knoxville.
Nabers conspired to submit more than 6,700 fraudulent claims to three health care programs, resulting in a loss to those programs of $249,600.02, the Department of Justice said in the release. The department added that Nabers admitted he did not personally perform or supervise the dental procedures.
Under the Tennessee Department of Health’s direction in 2019, Nabers had to send approximately 8,000 patients letters instructing them to get tested for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C because of his documented failure to properly sterilize equipment.
A former dental hygienist filed a lawsuit in October 2019, saying she was forced out of her job for refusing to perform procedures outside her professional scope and reporting violations to the states.
Nabers’ patients also filed a class action lawsuit against the dentist for potentially exposing thousands of people to infectious diseases.
Nabers’ attorneys said in a news release that he plans to continue his dental practice.