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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
January 14, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director
Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor
- Greta Gooden Brown, Insurance Fraud Prosecutor

 

Rachel Sacharow
609-984-1936

 
 

Russian Immigrant Facing Bergen County Trial on Charges of Practicing Dentistry Without a License and Insurance Fraud

Indicted Again on New Charges of Witness Tampering

Investigation Alleges that Defendant Used Purported Member of Russian Mob to Contact Witness to Change Testimony


TRENTON - Attorney General Peter C. Harvey announced that the Division of Criminal Justice - Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor has filed additional charges of witness tampering against a Russian immigrant already facing trial in Bergen County on charges of practicing dentistry without a license and insurance fraud. The investigation and State Grand Jury indictment allege that the defendant arranged to have a purported member of Russian organized crime contact the witness in an effort to have the witness change anticipated testimony at time of trial.

According to Vaughn L. McKoy, Director, Division of Criminal Justice, and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden-Brown, the superceding State Grand Jury indictment charges Lev Natovich, 36, Pine Terrace, Franklin Lakes, Bergen County with second degree tampering with witnesses and informants. In addition, Natovich, his father, Boris Natovich, 57, also of Pine Terrace, Franklin Lakes, and Joseph P. Matriss, 80, Passaic Street, Hasbrouck Heights, were re-indicted on charges of second degree conspiracy, Health Care Claims Fraud, and theft by deception (3rd degree). Lev and Boris Natovich were also charged with third degree conspiracy. A second degree crime carries a maximum penalty of up to ten years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third degree crimes carry maximum penalties of up to five years in state prison and a fine of up $15,000. The defendants also face possible civil insurance fraud fines pursuant to the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act. The defendants will be ordered to appear in Bergen County Superior Court for arraignment and bail.

According to Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Gooden-Brown, the superceding State Grand Jury indictment alleges that in November, 2003, Lev Natovich approached a witness in the case, and by threat of force, requested that the witness alter anticipated testimony with respect to the pending trial. It is also alleged that Natovich subsequently instructed a purported member of Russian organized crime to contact the witness with instructions on what to say when questioned about the case and how to testify at trial.

The initial State Grand Jury indictment (July 10, 2003) alleged that from September, 1999 to March, 2002, the Natovich’s performed varying dental procedures on at least 33 patients without any formal training in dentistry and without obtaining any state, federal or international license. The investigation determined that Boris Natovich and Matriss assisted Lev Natovich in the day-to-day operation of United Dental Center located at 35 Wallington Ave., Wallington, Bergen County. United Dental Center provided dental treatment to patients, including children, that included extractions, root canal, fillings, and the fitting of partials and bridges. Boris Natovich was the registered owner of the dental center, while Lev Natovich was identified as the office manager. Matriss was identified as a licensed dentist who performed dental services at United Dental Center.

The indictment also charged that the Natovich’s and United Dental Center submitted thousands of dollars in fraudulent bills to various insurance companies, including Local 338 Fund and Delta Dental Insurance, for dental services and treatments which were never provided or which falsely reflected that Matriss was the treating dentist. It is also alleged that Matriss did not perform the dental procedures and that the patients were treated by the Natovich’s or others who were not licenced to practice dentistry.

The investigation was conducted by the Division of Criminal Justice - Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor. State Investigator Frederic Moore, Civil Investigator Elizabeth Polster and Deputy Attorney General Jacqueline D. Smith coordinated the investigation. DAG Smith represented the Division of Criminal Justice - Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor before the State Grand Jury. The case was referred to the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor by the Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau.

The superceding indictment, which was handed up to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Maria M. Sypek on Jan. 10, is merely an accusation. The defendants are presumed to be innocent of the charges unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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