KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville dental provider will pay nearly $1 million to settle a 2020 lawsuit that alleged the company for years submitted false claims in order to receive higher reimbursements from TennCare, the state Medicaid program.

The United States Attorney’s Office announced Monday that Dr. Michael Sawaf and his affiliated company Premier Dental Group PLLC of Knoxville have agreed to pay $985,541 to resolve the lawsuit. Erin Ferdowsi and Reja Ferdowsi, both of whom were affiliated with the company, also agreed to resolve similar allegations against them.

Sawaf owns a clinic located at 303 S. Concord Street in Knoxville which was operated and managed by Erin and Reja Ferdowsi. The allegations brought forward by whistleblowers in 2020 alleged that Premier Dental Group submitted false claims to TennCare for dental services that were either not necessary or not performed at all.

It also settles allegations claims the company was reimbursed for services provided by uncredentialled dentists who were ineligible to bill TennCare from Aug. 14, 2019 and Sept. 11, 2019.

The settlement resolves these allegations and makes no determination of liability. The whistleblowers will receive $182,325 as part of the settlement.

This settlement was the result of a collaborative effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.