Orthodontist jailed for not turning over sign-in sheets

Saturday, September 1, 2001

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. -- A 66-year-old orthodontist has been unjustly jailed by federal authorities who are investigating Medicaid fraud, the orthodontist's wife said Friday.

Surgius Rinaldi is in a Chicago jail for not giving his office's patient sign-in sheets to investigators, his wife said. But Rosemary Rinaldi contends her husband was truthful when he told U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade that he does not know where the sheets are located.

"He's just very forgetful," she said. "This is all a big mistake."

Rinaldi, who practices here and in Springfield, was jailed by McDade on civil contempt charges on July 10 after Rinaldi failed to comply with an order issued the month before, according to a statement from the judge. Rinaldi is now at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago.

The statement from Mc-Dade, which included no other information, is the only document that can legally be made public in the case. McDade has prohibited everyone connected to the case from discussing it or sharing court documents with outsiders.

Rinaldi's lawyer, Tom Costello of Springfield, declined to comment on the matter, citing the judge's gag rule.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Chesley has said little more.

"All we can say is this office is pursuing legal avenues in that case," Chesley said last week.

Medicaid investigation

But Rosemary Rinaldi says her husband is being unfairly harassed by authorities who are investigating Medicaid fraud.

She says Rinaldi was sentenced to six months in jail and fined $1,400 a day for not turning over the sheets his patients used to sign in when they visited his practices in Springfield and Edwardsville, where he is one of few orthodontists willing to treat people on public aid.

"After this incident, there won't be a person out there who will take these people," she said.

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