“Mobile Dentist” Arrested for Practicing Without a License
If your dentist’s office is his car, he might not be legitimate. It sounds like common sense, but apparently, the fact that 36-year-old Eliver Kestler’s base of operations was a dingy red Chevrolet sedan didn’t discourage people in the Santa Fe, New Mexico area from using his services for five years. Known as “El Dentista,” Kestler, AKA Eliver Lopez, would drive around the city making house calls to low-income patients — primarily immigrants from Mexico without health insurance.
When police were tipped off the Kestler’s gig by a former patient of his (who reportedly paid $200 for two crowns and a false tooth), they set up a sting using an undercover cop posing as a potential client. El Dentista was arrested and charged with practicing dentistry without a license. Arresting officers found dental equipment in his car that was, according to the police report, “was apparently used since it was dirty with white hard substances attached to tips and filthy carrying cases.” Additionally, there was a “syringe with a clear liquid substance that apparently had been previously used.” They even discovered that he had printed up business cards touting his services (which included cleaning, fillings, extractions, dentures, bridges and crowns).
Kestler confessed to not having a dental license in the United States, although he claimed to have a license to practice in Mexico. In addition to practicing without a license, he faces charges of distribution of a controlled substance and attempt to commit a felony.
As scary as it seems, this isn’t as rare an incident as you’d think. Just within the past month, there have been a number of arrests in similar cases (granted, none of them involving “mobile” practices):
- In Highland Park, Illinois, former dentist Sheldon Hamilton, 86, was arrested for practicing without a license. Apparently, his license had been suspended on and off since 1995.
- In Boca Raton, Florida, Richard I. Lipman was arrested for practicing without a license, despite having previously received an order from the state of Florida to stop.
- In Columbia, Tennessee, police apprehended husband and wife Michael Richardson, 54, and Lana Richardson, 51, for illegally practicing dentistry, a charge Michael had previously had levied against him in two other cities.
- In Sunrise, Florida, 49-year-old Luis Quintero was arrested for unlawful practicing of dentistry from his home. Despite reportedly earning a comfortable $50,000 a year legitimately as a dental assistant, Quintero felt the need to perform black market dentistry to supplement his income.
(Sources: KOB.com, UPI, Chicago Tribune, BocaNewsNow.com, Columbia Daily Herald, CBS Miami)