Orthodontist Ben Burris Charged on 15 Counts of Bribery

by Billy Tarpley on August 20, 2019

The former Arkansas orthodontist Dr. Ben Burris was charged yesterday with 15 counts of bribery involving former state senator, Jeremy Hutchinson, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Arkansas. The charges follow on the heels of Hutchinson’s guilty pleas earlier this summer on two public corruption-related charges.

The 20-page indictment charges Burris with 14 counts of honest-services fraud (the federal mail and wire fraud statute) and one count of conspiracy to commit honest-services fraud. The indictment also states that Burris paid Hutchinson $157,000 between February 2014 and November 2016 specifically to gain his services as a state senator to overturn the Arkansas Dental Practices Act and to influence the state Department of Human Services to expedite Medicaid applications.

The attempt to challenge the Dental Practice Act mentioned in the indictment was presented as House Bill 1250 of 2017, which became Act 489. Although Hutchinson introduced the language, he was not the sponsor. ASDA worked closely with the interested parties, including the Association of Dental Support Organizations, to negotiate limits to the legislation. Ultimately, the act allows dental specialists to perform general dental procedures provided such procedures do not exceed 50 percent of their practice. The act also clarified that a non-dentist may not interfere with the professional judgment of a dentist even if the dentist is an employee.

The 20-page indictment can be found here.

More information on the indictment can be found in several publications, including the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Arkansas Business.

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