The Investigators: Government finds deadbeat doctors defaulting on student loans

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
EXCLUSIVE: Goverment finds deadbeat doctors defaulting on student loans
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Jim Hoffer investeigates.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The government calls them deadbeat, local doctors and dentists living a life of luxury despite owing millions in student loans.

Many of the loans are from decades ago, but still haven't been paid back, hurting you the taxpayer.

They live in fancy houses, drive expensive cars, and according to the government, owe taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"You owe almost $700,000?" Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter Jim Hoffer said.

"I am unable to comment on that because that is on-going litigation," said Dr. Demi Turner, a New Jersey dentist.

They are doctors and dentists from New Jersey and New York who borrowed the money in the 80's and 90's to go to medical school on the promise to pay the government back.

"You're not going to run from us are you? Sir why don't you talk to us?" Hoffer asked a dentist from Wappingers Falls.

These doctors who are on the Department of Education's Defaulted Borrowers list had little to say about why they've failed to pay back the government that helped them to succeed.

Dentist Scott Kupetz has a successful practice in Dutchess County, New York. According to the government, he's defaulted on a student loan that dates back 25 years.

"You owe $149,000 to the government. Why wouldn't you explain to us, doctor?" Hoffer asked.

And there's Brooklyn dentist, Sammy Saadia. He owns the New York Smile Group. He wasn't smiling when we confronted him about his defaulted loan.

"My loans were deferred, we made special arrangements. That doesn't reflect the true value," Dr. Saadia said.

"Then why is your name on the list?" Hoffer asked.

"I don't know," Saadia said.

But the Department of Education says if they're on this list, they still owe. In Dr. Saadia's case he owes $156,000.

"This is almost 20 years old, more than 20 years, you graduated from NYU. Sir, sir just stop and explain to us," Hoffer said.

By far though one of the biggest deadbeat doctors according to the government is Podiatrist Demi Turner who drives a brand new car to his thriving practice in Montclair, New Jersey.

"You owe a lot of money. According to the Department of Education you owe almost $700,000," Hoffer said.

"I am unable to comment on that because its on-going litigation," Dr. Turner said.

"Taxpayers of this country paid for their education," said Leslie Paige, of Citizens Against Government Waste.

A watchdog group blasts the deadbeat doctors and the government for doing too little to collect.

"If there are no consequences for this, there are always going to be people who take advantage of a federal government program. They don't really think of it as stealing from people, they think of it as stealing from the government and to them that's different," Paige said.

Doctor after doctor hid behind the closed door of their huge homes or ran to their fancy cars, rather than explain to Eyewitness News why they decided to stick the taxpayers with their student loans.

"What is taking so long, this loan goes back decades. Why won't you talk to us and explain what's wrong?" Hoffer asked.

"Because it's an ambush," Turner said.

A lawyer for Dr. Demi Turner says they are working with the U.S. Attorney's Office, and while Dr. Turner disputes the amount owed; his lawyer says he wants to settle the debt.

The government says they seize tax refunds, even ban doctors from billing Medicare and Medicaid as a way to force them to payback.