Whether it's cavities, root canals, or having to fess up about your flossing habits, going to the dentist can be really scary for a lot of people. But that's without the fear that you might be hooked up to an IV for a routine cleaning, or operated on while your dentist rides a hoverboard—two things one dentist in Alaska is being accused of doing, Alaska Dispatch News reports.
Authorities from the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the Office of Inspector General, the FBI, and DEA hit Seth Lookhart with 17 counts of fraud and "unlawful dental acts" this week. The suit, which was filed Monday, claims the Anchorage dentist committed a wild range of charges—most egregiously, defrauding Medicaid of $1.8 million by sedating patients using IV anesthetic for simple procedures.
When Lookhart and his office manager, Shauna Cranford, figured out that their dental practice could rake in massive payouts from Medicaid if they frequently sedated patients with IV, they allegedly went hog wild, putting people under even for simple teeth cleanings. He then allegedly transferred those reimbursement funds away from the business and to his personal LLC.
"So pumped on the IV stuff," Lookhart texted Cranford in 2015.
"It's going to be awesome, and really drive things up here," she allegedly replied.
Lookhart and his alleged partner-in-crime are also accused of running their dentistry, Clear Creek Dental, like a madhouse. Authorities claim they have video evidence of Lookhart filming himself pulling teeth from a patient while he was riding a hoverboard, which he then texted to friends, saying he was conducting a "new standard of care." Lookhart also allegedly let Cranford—who, again, just worked as an office manager—pull two teeth from a sedated patient.
"It was a real patient," Cranford reportedly texted another employee. "(Lookhart) let me do it."
Lookhart appeared at a bail hearing on Wednesday, where a judge determined he was a flight risk and ordered that he hand over his passport. He was also ordered not to communicate with Cranford, who herself is facing 16 charges—ten of which are felonies. Should Lookhart be found guilty, he could owe over $2 million in restitution, on top of additional fines.
According to the Dispatch News, Lookhart's practice is still open and his dental license is still active, though he's no longer a Medicaid provider. He's set to face a court hearing in June.
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