DENTIST & WIFE NOT GUILTY IN FRAUD CASE

A Red Bank dentist and his office-manager wife were acquitted earlier this week of all charges in a Medicaid fraud case, the Asbury Park Press reports.

After a four-week trial, a jury in state Superior Court in Freehold found dentist Marc Weber not guilty of all four counts that remained against him following an 11-count indictment a year ago, the Press reports. Weber’s wife, Jennifer Barbers, was acquitted on all five counts left against her.

Weber’s Broad Street dental practice, Weber Dental Associates, was also acquitted of all charges, which included health care claims fraud. Barbers alone faced charges of identity theft and theft by deception.

From the Press:

When the state Attorney General’s Office announced the indictment last year, authorities said Weber and Barbers told another employee — who handled the practice’s billing operations — to submit fraudulent claims to Medicaid and private insurers between 2004 and 2008.

John J. Flynn, the Manasquan-based attorney who represented Weber and the practice, said the dentist did $1.1 million worth of Medicaid billings over a 3 1/2-year period. He was accused of stealing $2,000 from five patients, out of thousands, Flynn said.

“It was just an absurd prosecution,” he said.

Barbers’ Princeton-based attorney, Robert G. Stevens, said they never believed the state could prove fraud as they had alleged in the indictment.

“We had a very good jury and the jury agreed with us,” Stevens said. “I’m very pleased with the verdict.”

The case was tried before state Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci Jr., sitting in Freehold.

Jury deliberations began late last Friday morning and continued Tuesday, Flynn said.

Weber’s dental license remains active, according to the state Department of Consumer Affairs. Flynn said Weber is still working.

Had they been convicted, the couple would have faced five to 10 years in prison on the conspiracy and health care claims fraud counts.

The state Attorney General’s Office said that while it was disappointed, it respected the jury’s decision.