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When patients came to an apartment-based dental practice in Phoenix, they found a typical office setting, complete with a waiting room and dental equipment. What was nowhere to be found, according to police, was a qualified dental professional.
A Phoenix woman known affectionately as “Mama Elda” by her patients was arrested last week for allegedly operating an unlicensed dental practice out of her apartment.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AZAG) launched an investigation into Elda Graciela Margez De Zamora’s practice following a tip from the Phoenix Police Department about an unlicensed dental and orthodontic office run by an unlicensed dentist.
The owner of Margez De Zamora’s apartment complex became suspicious when he learned a former office manager had referred an employee to the “dentist” known to tenants as “Mama Elda.”
Many tenants were seeing Margez De Zamora, 54, for dental and orthodontic work — the former office manager had even gotten braces this past January.
On May 4 the complex owner accessed “Mama Elda’s” apartment and saw what resembled a dentist office. The living room was outfitted as a waiting room with chairs, tables, and magazines. The bedroom had a bed set up as dental chair dental instruments, an air-water syringe, high water evacuator, and other dental equipment.
An AZAG agent went undercover and set up an appointment with Margez De Zamora on May 18. He observed “Mama Elda” allegedly treating patients prior to his scheduled appointments.
After completing an open records check with the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiner’s online database, officials found no record for Margez De Zamora as a licensed dentist or dental hygienist.
Margez De Zamora reportedly resides in Mexico and would drive to her Phoenix apartment to perform dental services for cash for the past two years.
AZAG special agents arrested and charged “Mama Elda” for fraudulent schemes and practices, practicing dentistry without a license, and illegal control of an enterprise.
Margez De Zamora is currently held in the Maricopa County 4th Avenue Jail on $20,000 cash bond.