HOUSTON (AP) — 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.

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.