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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Ex-doctor whose patient killed Montgomery family in wreck sentenced to 7 years for fraud

A former doctor was recently sentenced to federal prison on fraud charges he incurred after a prescription patient of his high on medication fatally crashed into a family of four driving home from church in Conroe.

Rezik A. Saqer, 66, of Houston, was sentenced to seven years on Oct. 9 by Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal of the Southern District of Texas. Rosenthal ordered Saqer to pay $5 million in restitution for fraudulently billing health care programs.

In early July 2019, Saqer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Saqer, according to an Oct. 9 release from the U.S. Department of Justice, was a physician and anesthesiologist at Texas Pain Solutions and Integra Medical Clinic.


Saqer’s patient, Ronald Evan Cooper, 73, of Montgomery, was sentenced to 80 years in prison in May 2017 for intoxication manslaughter. Cooper fatally struck with his car Roland Sedlmeier, 49, Melinda Sedlmeier, 42, Harley, 6, and Sofie, 4, as the family departed Sunday church service Sept. 20, 2015 on Texas 105.

Evidence presented at Saqer’s sentencing showed he had patients submit to “unnecessary and dangerous” procedures and tests as performed by his unlicensed staff and then billed them to health care providers as if he had carried out the work, the District Attorney’s office stated.

Health care providers were fraudulently billed more than $14.6 million by Saquer, according to the DOJ press release.

Additionally, “Saqer’s scheme contributed to multiple overdose deaths,” read a statement from the DA’s Office.

Citing an interest in not conflicting with Saqer’s prosecution in federal court, the District Attorney’s Office dismissed six murder charges the former doctor was facing and a seventh felony charge. These seven charges resulted from the prosecution of Cooper, according to the DA’s office.

Between March 2014 and September 2015, five of Saqer’s patients allegedly died as a result of him furnishing them drugs knowing they were substance abusers. A sixth murder charge alleged a patient in 2011 died after Saqer had an unlicensed person furnish “nontherapeutic” drugs, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The other dismissed charge was for a first-degree organized criminal activity felony for allegedly billing insurance companies for services not rendered in the span of five years, the affidavit showed.

The charges for which Saqer was sentenced resulted from work on the case against him as led by Assistant DA Tamara Holland, along with the Texas Department of Insurance and the Conroe Police Department, the DA’s Office stated.

“I want to thank all of the many people who worked so hard to obtain this outcome. There were endless hours spent on this case by a significant number of investigators and prosecutors, all to ensure Dr. Saqer finally met justice for his dangerous scheme,” Holland said in a statement.

District Attorney Brett Ligon spoke on the impact the Sedlmeier crash had on his office.

“I am proud to have our office work in close cooperation with multiple state and federal agencies, to investigate a case that has affected our community

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Montgomery doctor sentenced to 15 years in federal prison in pill mill case

A former Montgomery physician has been sentenced to federal prison for convictions on drug distribution, health care fraud and money laundering.

Richard A. Stehl, 60, was sentenced Friday to 15 years, according to a joint statement Monday by Middle District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Louis V. Franklin Sr., DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sean Stephen, HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson, and Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners Executive Director William Perkins.

Stehl was convicted in December 2019 on 94 counts of unlawfully distributing controlled substances, two counts of health care fraud, and five counts of money laundering.

The trial evidence showed that from 2010 through 2018, Stehl operated a medical practice, Healthcare on Demand. For most of that time, the practice was located at 201 Winton M. Blount Loop in Montgomery—just off of Taylor Road.

At his practice, Stehl prescribed addictive, controlled substances—including hydrocodone cough syrup, Adderall, Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan—despite knowing no legitimate medical purposes existed to support these prescriptions.

During the trial, the jury heard from ten of Stehl’s former patients. Each patient received multiple controlled substances prescriptions from Stehl. Several of the patients either developed addictions while seeing Stehl or had existing addictions worsened as a result of the supposed medical treatment Stehl provided.

One patient testified she would wait four hours to see Stehl and, by the time she made it to the examination room, she would demand that Stehl give her a prescription and let her leave—which he would then do. Another described driving more than four hours to see Stehl because she knew that Stehl would give her the drugs that she wanted. A third patient stated that Stehl gave her routine steroid injections—even though she reported to Stehl that she was allergic to steroids. After receiving several injections from Stehl, this patient wound up in the hospital.

At Friday’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Terry F. Moorer emphasized the harm that Stehl inflicted upon his patients, the fact that he prioritized profit over patient care, and Stehl’s complete lack of remorse as grounds for imposing the 15-year sentence.

The Drug Enforcement Agency and Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General investigated this case. They were aided by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division. Additionally, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Millbrook Police Department, the Opelika Police Department, the Montgomery Police Department, the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, and the United States Marshals Service all assisted in the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan S. Ross, Alice LaCour, and Megan Kirkpatrick prosecuted the case.

“The criminal conduct that occurred under the guise of Stehl’s medical practice was appalling,” stated Franklin said. “Stehl caused his patients to become addicted to powerful controlled substances all in the name of profit. In doing so, he inflicted immeasurable harm in the lives of his patients and his patients’ loved ones. The significant sentence imposed in this case reflects a just reward for Stehl’s drug dealing.”

“Stehl was the kingpin of taking advantage

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Hoverboard-riding dentist sentenced to 12 years in prison

  • An Alaska dentist who pulled a woman’s tooth while riding a hoverboard has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for fraud, embezzlement, and “unlawful dental acts.”
  • The video was part of prosecutors’ case against Seth Lookhart, who was found guilty of defrauding his customers by administering unnecessary procedures to rack up Medicare charges. 
  • Prosecutors are seeking $2.2 million in damanges, and Lookhart could also permanently lose his medical license in the state.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

An Alaska dentist who was videotaped pulling a woman’s tooth while riding a hoverboard is now facing jail time after he was found guilty by an Alaska court.

Seth Lookhart went viral when the video surfaced as part of an investigation into his Anchorage dental practice last year. In the 2016 video, Lookhart rolls up to a sedated patient, pulls her tooth while standing on the hoverboard, and rolls away. Prosecutors said they obtained the video after Lookhart sent it to people outside his office.

This week, an Alaska judge sentenced Lookhart to 20 years in prison with eight years suspended, state law enforcement officials announced. Lookhart was found guilty in January on 46 felony and misdemeanor counts including embezzlement, fraud, and “unlawful dental acts.”

The state first opened an investigation into Lookhart in 2016 after a former employee reported that Lookhart was administering more drugs than necessary in order to bill patients higher, according to the criminal complaint. Lookhart ultimately billed Medicaid as much as $2.5 million for unnecessary charges, prosecutors said.

“Lookhart almost killed many patients by performing anesthesia thousands of times without training or consent, on patients outside his scope of training and expertise, while stealing money from Medicaid and embezzling from his bosses,” the Alaska Department of Law said in a press release.

Veronica Wilhelm, the patient in the hoverboard video, confronted Lookhart in court last year, Anchorage’s KTUU-TV reported.

“I don’t have anything bad to say about taking out my tooth, I appreciate that, but I just think that what you did was outrageous, narcissistic, you know, and crazy,” she said.

After being sentenced this week, Lookhart read a statement in court apologizing to his patients, according to KTUU-TV.

“While I do not doubt that I was able to render care and alleviate the pain to many people who were in dire need, I also know that I could have and should have maintained better discipline and focus while serving a patient base I came to love,” he said.

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Dentist who extracted a patient’s tooth while riding a hoverboard sentenced to 12 years

An Alaska dentist was also filmed riding a hoverboard during a procedure on a patient who was under anesthesia was convicted on 46 counts of defrauding the federal Medicaid program has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton found Seth Lookhart, 35, guilty Jan. 17 of pressuring patients to needlessly undergo intravenous sedation to bill Medicaid for the service.

Wolverton on Monday suspended eight years of the sentence, leaving Lookhart 12 years of prison time to serve.

The state requested that the court order Lookhart to pay more than $2 million in restitution for the Medicaid fraud.

A 25-second video that appeared to have been filmed using a phone showed Lookhart riding a hoverboard into an exam room before removing a tooth from a sedated patient and then pivoting and riding away.

dentist.jpg
A video showed Seth Lookhart riding a hoverboard while removing a tooth from a patient. 

KTVU


Evidence presented at trial showed other patients were left unattended while sedated, had breathing and heart complications and in some cases nearly died.

Patients also testified they woke from anesthesia to discover Lookhart worked on or removed the wrong teeth or strayed from agreed treatment plans.

Judge Wolverton said he was particularly struck by numerous text messages in which Lookhart bragged to friends about his crimes, KTVU reported.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, not ever,” Wolverton said.

Lookhart apologized in court while reading a prepared statement.

“While I do not doubt that I was able to render care and alleviate the pain to many people who were in dire need, I also know that I could have and should have maintained better discipline and focus while serving a patient base I came to love,” he said.

Lookhart is scheduled to begin serving his sentence Dec. 7.

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Hoverboard Dentist Sentenced to 12 Years In Prison

Illustration for article titled Dentist Who Pulled Tooth While Riding Hoverboard Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison

Screenshot: Gizmodo/Seth Lookhart’s Dental Office

The hoverboard is the cursed gadget that keeps on giving. Years after the devices became infamous for exploding, they’re back in the news. This week, Seth Lookhart, a former dentist in Anchorage, Alaska, was sentenced to 12 years in jail after a video of him removing a patient’s tooth while riding a hoverboard drew unwanted attention to his illegal activities. Lookhart was convicted on 46 felony and misdemeanor counts in January that included charges of medical assistance fraud, scheme to defraud, unlawful dental acts, and reckless endangerment.

Lookhart’s sentencing took place on Monday, and according to a statement from the Alaska Department of Law, he was given a full sentence of 20 years in jail with eight years suspended. The disgraced dentist was also placed on probation for 10 years and told he can’t practice medicine during that time. According to local news outlet KTUU, the state could still revoke Lookhart’s medical license permanently.

In 2016, at the height of the hoverboard fad, Lookhart decided to conduct a routine tooth removal procedure while teetering on one of the devices. Video footage was taken of the event in which he can be seen victoriously pulling the tooth from the mouth of a sedated patient. He then proceeds to engage the hoverboard and speed down the hallway of his office with his arms raised above his head. According to charging documents, Lookhart’s actions “did not conform to minimum professional standards of dentistry,” and he shared the video with several “persons outside his dental practice.”

The stunt is the primary reason Lookhart’s case has gone viral, but authorities found that he was also unnecessarily sedating patients to rack up fraudulent Medicaid charges totaling almost $2 million—a scam that authorities say he freely described in text messages saying that he was offering a “new standard of care.” In the statement, Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton is quoted as telling the court that the “overwhelming amount of evidence was often supported, and often in excruciating detail, by Lookhart’s own texts, photos, and videos.”

Some of Lookhart’s victims confronted him from the witness stand during the trial. Veronica Wilhelm, the patient in the hoverboard video, told Lookhart in the courtroom, “I don’t have anything bad to say about taking out my tooth, I appreciate that, but I just think that what you did was outrageous, narcissistic, you know, and crazy.”

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