METUCHEN – Authorities have charged a Metuchen dentist with falsifying the dental records of three children who were among five victims of a house fire in South Plainfield two weeks ago, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan, Chief James Parker of the South Plainfield Police Department, and Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi of the state Office of the Attorney General announced Thursday.
Paresh Patel, 46, of Edison, was charged with falsifying or tampering with dental records and obstruction of the administration of law by providing the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office with false dental records of three of the children who died during the fire on Feb. 23.
He also was charged with insurance fraud by submitting five or more false claims totaling more than $1,000, and was charged with five counts of healthcare claim fraud.
Patel, owner of a Metuchen dental clinic known as Healthy Smiles Dental Associates, LLC, was charged after initial efforts to identify the youngsters determined Patel allegedly provided records that showed certain dental work had never been performed.
The false records prevented and delayed positive identification of the children.
Police further determined that after allegedly falsifying dental records between April and May 2011, Patel allegedly billed Medicaid for the procedures that never were performed.
Kaplan praised the South Plainfield Police Department and the state Attorney General’s Office for their work on the case.
Earlier this week, police confirmed the identities of the children as: Christopher Jefferson, 5, Tyler Davis, 7, and Alize Jefferson, 12.
Also killed in the fire were the children’s grandmother, Ann Jefferson, 62, and Elijah Taylor, 2.
Autopsies performed by the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office showed the victims died from smoke inhalation.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Police and volunteer firefighters received a call at 3:09 a.m. on Feb. 23, 2012, and went to the scene of the fire at 1407 Clinton Avenue, where nine family members resided.
Four victims were treated for injuries suffered in the fire at the two-family home. One family member remains hospitalized in stable condition.
Anyone with information on the insurance fraud is asked to call Investigator Donald Heck of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at 1-732-745-8848, or the Attorney General’s Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor at 1-877-55 FRAUD (1-877-553-7283).
The charges against Patel are merely accusations; he is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.
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