A dentist from Anchorage has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for defrauding Alaska’s Medicaid program. Seth Lookhart was investigated after a video of him went viral on the internet which showed him extracting a tooth from an unconscious patient while riding a hoverboard. (There’s a lot to unpack there, so let’s get down to it.)
A jury found Lookhart guilty on 46 fraud related charges which included Medicaid fraud, embezzlement, reckless endangerment, and unlawful dental acts. (Unlawful dental acts? Who knew there was such a thing.) To clarify, these charges were in relation to fraudulent acts he committed at his dental practice.
Lookhart worked at Alaska Dental Arts in 2015 before buying out the owner and rebranding the company to Clear Creek Dental. Charges were first filed against Lookhart in 2017 when a former employee told investigators that he was providing more sedation than was required so that the company could increase profits.
The investigation revealed that Lookhart and his former office manager, Shauna Cranford, billed nearly $2 million in unjustified IV sedation expenses in 2016 alone. While Medicaid patients do not pay anything for IV sedation, dental practices can bill Medicaid higher rates for sedation than for other anesthetics. (Lookhart also allowed Cranford, who is not a licensed dentist, to extract a patient’s tooth. I suppose they thought it would be fun.)
Investigators discovered text messages from Lookhart that detailed the practices’ scheme to sedate patients for longer than necessary so that they could increase their billings and receive higher reimbursements from Medicaid. (Criminals are really making investigators’ jobs easier these days. He didn’t even try to conceal his scheme.)
A multitude of former employees and patients testified against Lookhart at his trial. One of the patients that testified was the woman whose tooth was pulled while Lookhart rode a hoverboard. Another patient testified that Lookhart removed four of his teeth without his permission.
Lookhart’s dental license was suspended after the charges were filed in 2017 but Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton ruled that he would not be able to practice medicine during his 10-year probation period following his release from prison. (Never practicing again would also be a good option.)
Judge Wolverton expressed his outrage at Lookhart’s recklessness stating, “you darn near killed some people, ” in response to the practice of regularly over sedating patients. In addition to being sentenced to 12 years in prison, Lookhart was ordered to pay $2.2 million in restitution. (Perhaps additional punishment like pulling four of Lookhart’s teeth without his permission and without any sedation would have been appropriate.)
Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Anchorage dentist who defrauded Medicaid and extracted patient tooth while riding hoverboard sentenced to prison, ” published by Anchorage Daily News on September 15, 2020.
An Anchorage dentist who extracted a patient’s tooth while on a hoverboard was sentenced Monday to 12 years in prison for dozens of charges including Medicaid fraud.
Seth Lookhart was captured on video extracting the tooth from the unconscious patient. Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton said Monday that Lookhart nearly killed several patients by frequently sedating them for extended periods of time.