Troubled Florida oral surgeon pleaded guilty to embezzling from practice where he worked; sentenced to 3.5 years in prison

A St. Cloud oral surgeon was sentenced to five years in state prison this week in a Leon County courtroom and agreed to give up his license to practice dentistry.

John Rowe, 49, pleaded guilty in September to one count of organized fraud and 51 counts of receiving unlawful compensation. He admitted charging patients for anesthesia and billing Medicaid for the same treatment, although he never administered the drugs, said Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Jack McLaughlin.

Rowe also pleaded guilty to one count of grand theft and two counts of homeowners insurance fraud committed in Osceola County.

Judge N. Sanders Sauls, chief of the Second Judicial Circuit, Tuesday sentenced him to 3 1/2 years in prison to be served at the same time as the fraud sentence. The case was transferred to Leon County, where Medicaid is administered, for the plea and sentencing.

”I’m satisfied with the sentences the statewide prosecutor got,” said prosecutor Jon Morgan, who heads the Osceola County office of the Orange-Osceola State Attorney. ”I think they will serve to protect the citizens of this state from him taking advantage of them in the future.”

Dozens of former patients, insurance companies and Florida Board of Dentistry attorneys have sued or complained about Rowe in the past decade.

He got out of federal prison in September after serving more than two years for money laundering and submitting false Medicare claims. Prosecutors said he collected payments from patients for routine dental work, then billed Medicare for surgery he never performed. The incidents happened from 1992 to 1994.

As part of his sentence, Rowe’s state prison term will be followed by 10 years of probation. He also must repay $93,000 to Allstate Insurance Co. for the homeowners fraud and pay for the cost of the investigation by the Office of Statewide Prosecution, the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Earlier this year, Rowe was ordered to repay more than $5,000 to Medicare. He stopped practicing dentistry in 1995, when he was sent to federal prison.

When Rowe was granted a license in Florida, the Tennessee Board of Dentistry already had revoked his license for six months in 1983 on charges of gross malpractice and incompetence.

Six years later, the Florida board fined him and sent him to 100 hours of retraining after he pulled teeth without permission.


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