- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) — A former dentist has pleaded guilty to fraud for using paper clips instead of stainless-steel posts in root canals.

Michael Clair will be sentenced next Monday after pleading guilty last week in a Massachusetts court to a variety of charges, including defrauding a government health program of $130,000, assault and battery, illegally prescribing prescription drugs and witness intimidation.

Authorities say that instead of stainless-steel posts for root canals, he used sections of paper clips — which can cause pain and even infection — in an effort to save money.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said paper clips sometimes can be used temporarily, but the 53-year-old Clair used the paper clips as a permanent fix.

Some of Clair’s patients reported infections, said Grant Woodman, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.

Clair’s license to practice dentistry was suspended in Massachusetts in 2006. Mr. Woodman said Clair no longer is licensed to practice dentistry in any state.

Clair’s lawyer, John Dingee, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.