HOUSTON — A chain of dental clinics has agreed to pay about $24 million in civil penalties to settle allegations that it submitted Medicaid claims for unnecessary dental procedures on children.

A Justice Department statement Wednesday said the federal government would receive more than $14 million of the settlement reached by Marietta, Georgia-based Benevix LLC and its Kool Smiles clinics. Texas and 16 other states will share almost $10 million, and three whistleblowers will share more than $2.4 million.

Kool Smiles operates two offices in Waco.

Prosecutors accused Benevis and Kool Smiles of performing medically unnecessary procedures on children between January 2009 and December 2011.

Lawsuits filed by the would-be whistleblowers in Connecticut and West Texas triggered the investigation.

A Benevis statement denies wrongdoing, blaming "professional disagreements between qualified dentists" in determining the necessity and cost of care.

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