An Arkansas orthodontist is facing federal criminal charges after prosecutors said Monday he gave a state senator’s family free dental work in exchange for political favors.
Dr. Benjamin Gray Burris is charged with 15 criminal counts including honest services wire fraud and conspiracy.
Prosecutors say Dr. Burris between 2014 and 2016 bribed former Republican state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson with free orthodontic services for his family, use of a private plane to attend a football game and paid the official’s law firm roughly $157,500.
In exchange, Hutchinson pressured the Arkansas Board of Dental Examiners to change regulations barring orthodontists from using dental hygienists to do teeth cleaning, according to court documents.
Dr. Burris had previously run afoul of state regulators for using dental hygienists to clean customers’ teeth, prosecutors said. He also demanded Hutchinson overhaul dental laws to allow hygienists to take X-rays and perform some procedures without supervision from a dentist, according to the indictment.
In 2014, Dr. Burris entered into a consent agreement with the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners for use of hygienists to perform duties in violation of state rules. He sought retaliation by asking Hutchinson to freeze the association’s budget, prosecutors say.
When Hutchinson did place a hold on the ASBDE’s budget, Dr. Burris bragged to an unidentified friend, “We own the dental board,” according to court documents.
Hutchinson pleaded guilty in June to a tax and bribery charges stemming from his relationship with Dr. Burris.
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