Embattled dentist charged with Medicaid fraud, bonds out

Dr. Howard S. Schneider collected $3.9 million from Medicaid in 5 years

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dr. Howard S. Schneider, the pediatric dentist who faced allegations of mistreatment of pediatric patients, turned himself into police Monday afternoon, charged with 11 counts of Medicaid fraud.

According to jail records, Schneider, 78, was booked into the Duval County jail shortly before 4 p.m. on 11 counts of unauthorized Medicaid claims.

Schneider bonded out of jail on a $110,000 bond around 9 p.m. and was released pending a hearing that likely would take place Tuesday morning.

News4Jax also obtained a court document that said Schneider cannot afford to pay his attorney's fees for the case involving the new Medicaid fraud charges.

He filed a motion for temporary support to pay his attorney's fees. 

COURT DOCUMENT: Howard Schneider's expedited motion

The motion said this matter is an emergency since Schneider will be incarcerated until he can make bond.

Since April, hundreds of parents have claimed Schneider abused their kids as they sat in his dentist chair. They also claim he performed unnecessary dental procedures for the purpose of ripping off Medicaid.

Dr. Howard S. Schneider

Earlier this year, News4Jax reviewed state records and found that Schneider received $3.9 million in Medicaid reimbursements over the past five years.

According to the Agency for Health Care Administration, Schneider's fee-for-service reimbursements in both 2012 and 2013 were over $1 million.

DOCUMENT: 5-year Medicaid payments to Dr. Howard Schneider

Schneider eventually closed his Arlington office and relinquished his license to practice in both Florida and Georgia. 

Attorney John Phillips, who represents dozens of Schneider's former patients in a class-action lawsuit, is focused more on malpractice claims, but was expecting the state to file criminal charges over his misuse of Medicaid.

"We haven't seen the particular allegations, but we know of at least one incident where not only was Medicaid charged, but somebody's credit card was charged for the same procedure," Phillips said.

Brandi Motley, who is one Phillips client in the lawsuit and whose daughter she said was abused by Schneider, was with Phillips when she got the news and said she is pleased by the news.

"Definitely excited, can't really express how exactly I felt about it. Excited is all I can say. Justice was served. Definitely in the right area we're headed and need to be," Motley said. "This is definitely the justice I've wanted since day one so definitely overwhelming with that. (My daughter has) come a long ways with it all. We're getting there day by day."

Even with the charges and arrest, Motley said it doesn't fix what's been done and victims like her daughter are going through so much more.

"It's affected us big time, from the whole situation of her not trusting male figures, including her father, the PTSD, nightmares at night, pain in her mouth, trusting her new dentist and ortho, it's affected her a lot. Her speech in school and at home, her eating habits. In every way possible," Motley said.  

Rhonda Peoples-Waters, a local attorney not affiliated with the case, said that after his arrest, Schneider's defense team has some difficult challenges ahead.

"I expect the state has gathered a good amount of evidence to establish that these persons were billed for services through the Medicaid program that they actually didn't receive," Peoples-Waters said.

Peoples-Waters said the state is likely ready to present patients who did not receive proper dental care just by looking at their dental records over the years.

Schneider's 11 counts of Medicaid fraud could each carry a punishment of up to five years in jail but that time could mount if all of the counts are grouped together.

"If you combine them together then the penalty would be greater because you would have an amount alleged over $10,000. So those could even be second degree felonies or more serious penalties," Peoples-Waters said.  

About the Authors:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.