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A dental office manager in New York has learned the hard way that playing pretend can result in some very real consequences.
Office worker Valbona Yzeiraj, 45, scheduled appointments and saw patients at Ultimate Dental Care in Riverdale, N.Y., while the real dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Schoengold, was out of town. Self-dubbed “Dr. Val,” who is not a licensed dentist, made diagnoses, gave anesthetics and even performed dental extractions on unsuspecting patients who visited the practice. As a bonus, she offered discounts to patients willing to pay cash.
“She inspected patients, she diagnosed patients, she took X-rays, she injected patients with anesthetics, she even gave patients root canals,” said Bronx Assistant District Attorney Patrick McCadden at Dr.Val’s arraignment last week.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the questionable dental care (which took place from November 2012 to August 2013) left one patient combating an infection from a botched root canal and another suffering persistent pain nearly two years after their procedure. Her unauthorized venture might have gone on longer, but Dr. Shoengold discovered the fraudulent care after patients returned to his practice complaining about bungled dental procedures – that he hadn’t performed. He promptly fired Yzeiraj, whom he had hired in 2009 off of Craigslist.
The drama didn’t end there, however: Prosecutors say that Yzeiraj retaliated to the termination by attempting to steal more than $20,000 from the practice on her way out, adding felony attempted grand larceny to her collection of charges, which included felony assault, misdemeanor reckless endangerment and unauthorized practice.
Yzeiraj, who justified her actions by claiming she was trained as a dentist in her native Albania, pleaded not guilty, and bail was set at $20,000. She was also ordered to not go near any dental practices during the duration of her case. If convicted, Yzeiraj faces up to seven years in prison.