Another patient: Morristown dentist kept money for no work

Another patient: Morristown dentist kept money for no work

Dr. Paul Muscari Dr. Paul Muscari
"I just need my money back. He didn't work for it. It belongs to me," Tony Fabiano said. "I just need my money back. He didn't work for it. It belongs to me," Tony Fabiano said.

6 On Your Side Reporter

NEWPORT (WATE) -- 6 On Your Side has been investigating accusations of problem work and mistaken charges against Morristown dentist Dr. Paul Muscari for more than two years.

Now, more troubling legal issues are facing him.

In August 2008, Muscari was charged with unethical and dishonorable conduct by the state Board of Dentistry, following a series of stories by 6 On Your Side. His case has not yet been heard.

Nevertheless, another former patient says Dr. Muscari owes him money for work never performed.

In Newport, Lois Fabiano prepares easy to eat snacks for her husband, Tony, who can't chew too well. Tony is also disabled following a series of debilitating operations that have affected his mobility and health.

Two years ago, Tony, a retired business owner, had several teeth pulled in preparation for mini implants that would anchor new dentures.

Dr. Muscari extracted the teeth and prepared upper and lower dentures which Tony can't wear.

Tony paid for all his dental work in advance. "See I gave him $10,000 in cash, like he requested, with his name and the date."

Records show the extractions, dentures and implants would cost $11,600. But Tony says he was encouraged to pay cash in advance to take advantage of a 10 percent discount and savings of over $1,000.

However, Tony's wife was diagnosed with cancer a few months after Tony had paid Muscari in 2007. Caring for her delayed Tony's dental procedure.

Then he needed a total knee replacement, followed by a shoulder replacement last year. His doctor suggested that the dental implants be put on hold.

"If I got an infection in my bones, they'd have to remove the implants I have in my body," Tony said.

Tony wrote to Muscari requesting his escrow be returned due to the series of unforeseen setbacks. But for months, Tony has heard nothing from Dr. Muscari. "He owes me $6,800 left in escrow."

Muscari has left other patients fighting for their rights. In February 2007, 6 On Your Side followed Norma Hill into Muscari's office with a hidden camera as she talked to Nancy Muscari, the dentist's office manager and wife.

For months, Norma had been dealing with the Muscaris trying to get her bill settled. Norma had mistakenly been charged $3,000 to have her teeth cleaned by Muscari, a bill that should have been $70.

The charge had been made to Care Credit, a credit service for dental patients. Norma had been encouraged to take out the charge card and fought with Muscari's office for nearly a year to get the overcharge settled.

Muscari had nothing to say in June 2007, when 6 On Your Side tried to ask him about Norma's case and others.

However, he'll have to answer the Department of Health in a few months for what the state calls a "pattern of malpractice."

Kathleen Evans showed 6 On Your Side loose dentures prepared by Dr. Muscari. He promised her in March 2007 they'd be tightened. They never were.

Kathleen said after Muscari put in six implants, her gums became infected.

Infection from dental implants is what worries Tony Fabiano.

In 2007, Kathleen took out a $7,100 loan from care credit for her dental care. She complained to the company after her implants were removed. The response was that she didn't work in good faith with her dentist.

6 On Your Side sent our stories and documentation to Care Credit. We also sent information about five Care Credit customers, patients of Dr. Muscari whose work was either unfinished or never started.

By December 2007, their bills were wiped clean by the credit company. For instance, Kathleen Evans' account was put at a zero balance.

Muscari's patients also wrote to the Department of Health's Licensing and Regulation Bureau in Nashville. Bureau Director Denise Moran and a panel of dentists on the dental board investigated individual cases for a year.

In the notice of charges, the state report claims Muscari allegedly made false of misleading statements about dental services to a credit card third party. That constitutes a violation of gross malpractice.

For the last few days, 6 On Your Side has called Muscari's office asking for a comment about refunding Tony Fabiano's advance payment. We've heard nothing.

On Wednesday, Tony received a letter from an attorney saying Dr. Muscari wants to resolve the issue without going to court.

"I just need my money back. He didn't work for it. It belongs to me," Tony said.

Tony has also contacted the state dental board to file a complaint, just as other patients of Dr. Muscari have done.

The dental board is scheduled to meet in September. Muscari's case will likely be on the agenda again.

Three previous hearings in which his case was scheduled to be heard were continued, or postponed, at the request of Muscari's attorney.

If you have a complaint against a doctor or dentist, call the health department's complaint line at 1-800-852-2157.

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