JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — First Coast News has confirmed that state investigators have launched a Medicaid Fraud inquiry into the practice of controversial Jacksonville dentist Dr. Howard Schneider.
The State Attorney General's Office confirmed to First Coast News that a criminal investigation is active and ongoing, but would not comment further.
This investigation comes just days after protests began outside his office by parents who say the dentist was too forceful with their children.
"There's bumps and bruises and scrapes. The children tell some horrific stories." says attorney Gust Sarris, representing Brandi Motley, who claims her daughter was mistreated by Schneider.
"It's something I have to live with daily. Looking at her and now with this going on, it replays in my head.", Motley tells First Coast News.
Protesters have gathered outside the Schneider's University Boulevard office for three days, accusing him of mistreating patients. There have also been several claims against Schneider made on social media, including posts to the First Coast News Facebook page.
"I'm sure in my lifetime I've done something that is off color, but it ain't mistreat kids," said Dr. Schneider in an interview with First Coast News.
The two times JSO was called to Dr. Schneider's office, both calls dealt with excessive use of force by the dentist to a young patient. Those calls came in 2001 and 2013.
The Duval County court website says two lawsuits were filed were filed back in 1995, both dealing with malpractice. We have not been able to obtain copies of those suits, but we know both were dismissed.
The Better Business Bureau and OSHA have no complaints on Dr. Schneider.
Still, JSO was at the office Wednesday morning to talk to protesters and Schneider himself.
"I'm not worried about the allegations because the allegations are not true," Schneider said. "Like I said you can come up with a dozen people who love to make trouble but you're not going to find it in this office."
There's one more agency that has jurisdiction and could get involved in all of this: the Florida Board of Dentistry.
We learned however the public won't know if they are involved because their investigation is confidential until a conclusion is reached.
"The Florida Department of Health and Board of Dentistry are the state agencies charged with initiating and leading investigations surrounding complaints," said Drew Eason, Executive Director of the Florida Dental Association. "Ultimately, the Board of Dentistry will make a decision on what action to take following an investigation."
FCN also reached out to Florida Department of Children and Families that issued this statement:
The Florida Department of Children and Families does have the legal authority to investigate abuse and neglect of children by parents, caregivers such as relatives, and teachers or school personnel. The law does not give DCF the authority to investigate allegations involving doctors or dentists. We would encourage parents to contact law enforcement or the appropriate regulatory agencies if they have concerns regarding their children in these settings.