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The LaMaster Law Firm Blog

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Hoverboarding Dentist Gets 12-Year Prison Sentence for Fraud

The infamous Alaska dentist who was videotaped pulling a woman’s tooth while riding a hoverboard is facing a lengthy prison sentence after being convicted of fraud and numerous other charges in January. The hoverboarding incident surfaced in a video that prosecutors obtained as part of an investigation into allegations of Medicaid fraud against dentist Seth Lookhart.

The Backdrop

The Alaska Department of Law opened its investigation into Lookhart in 2016 after a former employee blew the whistle on the dentist for administering more drugs to patients than necessary to inflate medical bills that were submitted to Medicaid for reimbursement.

Meanwhile, Lookhart pulled a tooth from a patient while riding a hoverboard in 2016, captured the incident on video, and shared it with people outside his office. The video eventually made its way to prosecutors during the investigation.

Lookhart was charged with multiple offenses in 2017. The charges centered on a scheme in which patients were unnecessarily sedated or sedated for extended periods of time so that Lockhart could inflate Medicaid billing; he ultimately bilked the joint federal-state healthcare program for $2.5 million in unnecessary charges. Prosecutors found evidence of the Medicaid fraud scheme detailed by Lookhart in text messages.

The video—played in court last year—shows Lockhart extracting a tooth while wobbling over the sedated patient on his hoverboard. Once done, he rolls on down the hallway, throwing his hands in the air in “victory.” The patient had a chance to address Lockhart in court.

“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.

The Consequences of Medicaid Fraud

In January 2020, Lookhart was found convicted of 46 felony and misdemeanor counts, including embezzlement, fraud, and "unlawful dental acts." An Alaska judge sentenced Lookhart to 20 years in prison with eight years suspended in September, remarking how dangerous the sedations were for the unsuspecting patients.

“In reviewing all this over and over again, I have this visceral response—you darn near killed some people,” he said.

After being sentenced, Lookhart read a statement in court apologizing to his patients.

"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.

The Takeaway

The transgressions of the hoverboarding dentist are not a reflection of the professionalism and quality care that is the hallmark of the dental community. Nonetheless, dentists can find themselves in legal jeopardy through no fault of their own. Even simple mistakes in Medicaid billing can result in fraud charges. The best way to ensure your practice is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations is to consult with a lawyer who represents dental professionals.


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