Mira Mesa dentist sentenced to 6 years in custody for $866K insurance fraud scheme

A Mira Mesa dentist was sentenced Wednesday to six years in custody and ordered her to pay more than $405,000 in restitution for fraudulently billing 10 insurance companies for hundreds of root canals she did not perform, authorities said.

April Rose Ambrosio, 59, pleaded guilty earlier this year to three counts of insurance fraud as part of a four-year scheme in which she billed the insurance companies $866,700, according to prosecutors and the state insurance commissioner.

Authorities said she was paid $405,633 by the insurance companies. San Diego Superior Court Judge Daniel Goldstein ordered Ambrosio to pay back that money.

She was ordered to serve a split sentence, meaning she will spend three years in county jail and three years on mandatory supervision in the community. California law changed in 2011 to allow some non-violent offenders to serve their prison terms in jail — a situation often described in court as “local prison.”

In September 2019, a judge ordered Ambrosio to stop practicing dentistry. State records show that’s when her license, which was issued in 1990, was suspended.

Authorities said Ambrosio falsely claimed to have performed 800 root canals on 100 patients between 2014 and 2018, even though she lacked the specialized training required to perform root canals.

In some instances, the people she claimed to have performed root canals for had never set foot in her office. In another instance, she billed an insurance company $61,700 for 110 root canals, all of which she claimed to perform on a family of four over just a three-month period in 2016.

“Her deception involved billing for work on days her office was closed, or she was noted as being on vacation,” county prosecutors said in a news release. “In some instances, Ambrosio billed for root canals on non-existent or missing teeth, or she double billed for teeth she previously claimed to have performed root canals on.”

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said the way that Ambrosio “bilked the system” was “astounding.”

“Unfortunately, when insurance companies get ripped off, consumers ultimately pay the price through higher premiums,” Stephan said in a news release.

Ambrosio’s attorney, Kerry Armstrong, said his client “is extremely remorseful” and ready to begin her sentence next week.

“By all accounts, she was a fantastic dentist to her patients,” Armstrong wrote in an email Wednesday night. “And while she possibly will never get to practice dentistry again, she hopes to work in a field where she can help people once she serves her sentence and regains employment again.”

California Department of Insurance personnel investigated Ambrosio for more than two years and worked with the insurance fraud division of the District Attorney’s Office to prosecute the case.

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Moms Who Lost Custody of Their Kids Due to Addiction Overcome Darkness to Find ‘Greater Things’

Moms Who Lost Custody of Their Kids Due to Addiction Overcome Darkness to Find ‘Greater Things’

“I learned that I was a person and I was not my disease and that it was okay my kids could not keep me sober,” says Freedom House alumna Christina Compton

Three years ago, Christina Compton was in an incredibly dark period of her life after struggling with addiction to the point where she lost custody of her two kids and was arrested while pregnant with her third child.

“I felt like there was no hope or no chance,” Compton, 33, tells PEOPLE. “I carried around so much guilt and shame from losing my other kids and I felt like they should’ve been enough to keep me sober, [but] it wasn’t. I never understood what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t stop doing drugs or alcohol.”

Elsewhere in Kentucky, mom Brittany Edwards was also struggling with her substance addiction and had lost custody of her four kids.

“Since I can remember, I’ve been a drug addict,” says Edwards, now 31. “It took me many, many years to realize I needed help.”

However, in the time since then, both Compton and Edwards have turned their lives around — thanks to the nonprofit organization Volunteers of America and their treatment center, The Freedom House, which helps pregnant women and moms stay with their kids while recovering.

Edwards was the Manchester Freedom House’s first graduate this past July, while Compton finished Louisville’s program in August 2017 and now works there as a therapist, technician, peer support specialist and intake specialist.

RELATED: Introducing PEOPLE’s Mental Health Initiative: Let’s Talk About It

Courtesy Christina Compton Christina Compton with her kids, Christina, CaRon and Wyatt

Volunteers of America Brittany Edwards with her kids Rylen, Ally, Jackson and Bentley

“Without them, I don’t know where I would have ended up,” Compton says of the facility. “You go into rehab saying, ‘Okay, I’m going to learn about my disease. I’m going to get sober,’ and Volunteers of America gave me so much more than that.”

Adds Edwards: “I’ve never completed anything in my life except for this program… Being an addict, it’s hard. No one is immune to addiction and they just taught me how to accept life on life’s terms and be okay with that.”

For Compton, her history with substance abuse began at age 9 after she suffered an injury from gymnastics and was given narcotic pain medication.

“I remember taking those and liking the way that they made me feel,” she recalls, adding that she “went off the deep end” after her mom died when Compton was in the eighth grade.

By 19, Compton was a mother of two but still using drugs and alcohol in what she says became “a vicious cycle” and caused her to lose custody of her kids.

“I just felt like this empty vessel of a woman and a failure,” she explains. “Because the one thing in my mind that

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