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TRIAL DATE SET IN FRAUD CASE AGAINST DENTIST

He has had problems with a federal prosecutor, disagreements with pretrial officers over his alcohol consumption and seven defense attorneys.

But finally -- more than 3 1/2 years after fraud charges were filed against him -- Dr. Tejbir Oberoi has a trial date for his criminal trial in U.S. District Court.

District Judge Richard J. Arcara has scheduled jury selection to begin June 10 for Oberoi, an Amherst dentist who faces 157 criminal counts and also faces numerous lawsuits filed by ex-patients.

"The main reason for all the delays is all the changes of defense attorneys," said Jack Rogowski, a federal prosecutor with the Western New York Health Care Task Force. "Each time, new motions were filed, and new lawyers had to bring themselves up to speed on the case."

Oberoi is accused of using phony billings to defraud dental insurance plans. He is also accused of performing unneeded dental work on some of his patients. He denies the allegations.

Oberoi, who had been released on bail after his arrest, was sent to jail last week by Arcara.

Arcara took the action against the 56-year-old defendant after federal pretrial services officers charged that Oberoi had lied to them about his consumption of alcohol. Oberoi has been required to cooperate with monitoring of his drinking habits as one of the conditions of his bail release.

Arcara held a bail revocation hearing in the case Wednesday and is expected to issue a decision in the next few days.

Rogowski has tried to have Oberoi jailed three other times since his October 1999 arrest. The prosecutor has alleged that Oberoi made illegal contact with government witnesses and continued to engage in fraudulent conduct since his arrest. Oberoi denied those allegations.

Oberoi's latest attorney, John J. Molloy, said he is working closely with his client to prepare for the start of the trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce is prosecuting the case with Rogowski.

e-mail: dherbeck@buffnews.com

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