Back-to-school event includes clinic involved in News 8 investigations

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by BYRON HARRIS

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WFAA

Posted on July 19, 2012 at 10:39 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 20 at 5:24 AM

DALLAS - Tens of thousands of Dallas schoolkids and their parents turn out for the Mayor's Back to School Fair at the end of every summer, for a chance to get everything from immunizations, to haircuts, to school supplies -- all for free.

It's all donated by dozens of companies for the public good. But one of the sponsors this year, All Smiles Dental clinics, is charged with doing the public immense harm.

The company's been charged by the attorney general with Medicaid fraud, for allegedly billing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars for unneeded dental care under Medicaid.

All Smiles declared bankruptcy earlier this year, and settled a fraudulent billing case with the federal government for $1.2 million.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings' office was unaware of the actions until notified by News 8. Rawlings' spokeswoman, Paula Blackmon, said All Smiles has participated in the fair for years.

"Those booth operators and vendors are offered a chance to come back year after year," Blackmon said. "A letter goes out and we allow those individual to participate if they wish."

Vendors pay $2,500 to participate, but the city does not make money on the fair. The city does not do background checks on the vendors, Blackmon said.

She said All Smiles will be a participant at the fair on August 4, if it chooses.

"They've not been indicted or tried or found guilty," Blackmon said. "We've allowed them to either participate or not."

The Back to School Fair is a substantial generator of new patients for health clinics. State records show that in the case of All Smiles, for years, most of its patients have been on Medicaid.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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