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New York Police Arrest Office Manager Who Allegedly Pretends To Be Dentist And Botched Procedures

1, April 17, 2015 by jonathanturleyDrFeatured Image -- 525

Patients in the Bronx have learned that the dentist who performed their procedures — including botched procedures — was actually not a doctor but an office manager. Valbona Yzeiraj, 45, worked as an office manager at Dr. Jeffrey Schoengold’s office and claimed that she was a trained professional from her native Albania. However, even if true, she is not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S. but performed procedures on patients, including a root canal that left a patient with an infection and another with “persistent pain” two years after the procedure.

We have previously discussed how criminal and tort charges apply in such cases of unauthorized practice of medicine or law (here). In torts, such individuals are subject to the standard of the profession, in this case the standard of what a reasonable dentist would have done in such a procedures. In criminal law, the standard is more straightforward. If you hold yourself out as a doctor or lawyer, you are committing a crime.

Schoengold fired Yzeiraj and she that he learned she was treating patients when he was out of the office. She is now charged with assault in the second and third degrees, unauthorized practice, attempted grand larceny and reckless endangerment.

What will be interesting is whether these patients will sue Schoengold for negligence in the monitoring of his office and employees.

36 Responses

  1. If she is being charged with assault in the third degree, shouldn’t it be assault assault assault?

  2. What the hell is assault assault?

  3. None of the patients complained to the actual dentist of the pain and infections? None of the patients asked the actual dentist for a prescription for antibiotics or pain meds? This should have given him a clue as to what was going on. How many procedures, over how long of a period of time? Also, what’s with the charge of attempted grand larceny? I’m assuming that she was pocketing the money from these procedures, so shouldn’t that just be a charge of grand larceny, not attempted grand larceny? Maybe she was giving the patients time to pay and hadn’t yet received enough payments justifying a grand larceny charge, which might explain the attempted grand larceny. While the authorities are at it, they should throw in an attempted dye job; this one’s a disaster and criminal.🙂

    Never have someone named Valbona perform a root canal. It’s never a good idea. 🙂

  4. This was obviously a case of the office manager in collusion with the patients. Unless, of course, the dentist was in on it. If you go to a dentist and have work done, even if the person working on you is masquerading as a dentist, you need to be registered in the office books. There has to be a record of funds transferred. There has to be some sort of formality. Unless the dentist was in on it, the work was done off the books.

    For the office manager to get away with this, without her boss’s knowledge, the patient was most likely offered a ‘deal’. Caveat Emptor.

    During my career as an Architect I often ran across ‘bottom feeders’. These people wanted to pay ‘next to nothing’ for services and then go on into construction ‘stepping on’ all the contractors. First they got the plans approved and then had them bid. Then they took out a building loan. Then they took the lowest bid-sometimes unreasonably low. Then into the work after the loan had started and interest was ticking along, they got into a disagreement with the general contractor as he tried to make a square peg fit a round hole. The job stopped. The contractor sued. The interest kept ticking along. And everyone got screwed.

    ‘Bottom feeding’ is a crapshoot and all those involved get what they deserve. If one does get away with a Mercedes for the price of a Corolla then good for them. But if not, take your licks and use a real dentist the next time.

    The woman should be charged with fraud but probably not for assault and civil penalties.

  5. Of course the real dentist will be sued. He has insurance! Geez.

  6. isaac

    You make the giant leap that the patients were somehow aware that the person, dressed, presumably, in scrubs, was not a dentist herself. As a patient, I would have no idea that the person, standing over me, was not qualified to perform the procedures. When I go to have my teeth cleaned, for example, I just assume that the dental hygienist, or the person claiming to be that, is actually a dental hygienist and not a waitress from the restaurant down the street. I do not ask to see her diplomas or certificates as she lowers my chair and begins to clean my teeth. Do you? I am going to assume that no reasonable and sane person is going to allow an unqualified and unlicensed individual to perform invasive and dangerous oral surgery. Please, no examples of oddballs knowingly allowing medical work to be performed by unlicensed criminals, since those would be the exception, not the rule. Assuming that these patients had knowledge that she wasn’t, in fact, a dentist is not indicated by the few facts presented here. If the patients were paying, in cash, this woman could have given them a receipt and sent them on their way. Many people do not have dental insurance, so paying out of pocket is not unusual and sidesteps the involvement of any insurance companies. These patients weren’t going to some back alley to have dental work performed; they were going, to what they assumed, was a legitimate dental practice. Blaming the victims here, as you have, is surprising, even coming from you

  7. bam bam – I am one of those who checks out the diplomas on the walls.

  8. going to, what they assumed, was a dental. . .

  9. Paul C

    Since the diplomas have no photos, do you know, with any degree of certainty, to whom they were actually issued? They may be hanging on the walls of the dental office, but I have no idea to whom they belong. It’s not like seeing a diploma and bar license on the wall behind your attorney: you know his name and his identity. I couldn’t tell you the names of the multiple people in these dental offices. Most of us just rely on blind trust that the people in these offices are what they say they are. We do that, I suppose, based upon our trust in the dentist, figuring that he/she would not allow an unqualified person to perform any unauthorized tasks. The same applies to hospital settings. Do you know, with any degree of certainty, that the people marching in and out of your hospital room have the proper credentials? Of course not. You depend upon the hospital and its integrity to hire properly trained employees.

  10. bam bam – you are absolutely correct. I had a friend who had a beautiful ASU Ph.D. diploma on his wall. It was fake. 🙂

  11. Bam bam

    First, read more carefully. The conditions of the dentist’s involvement or negligence brings the dentist into the picture. If the dentist is unaware of the scam and one goes to a dentist’s office and pays in cash, gets no receipt/ie no office record, has the person who greets them do the work, and cannot tell the difference between an office manager and a dentist/doctor, then maybe, just maybe, the patient’s radar was turned off at the invitation to ‘save some money’.

    If the dentist is out of the picture, the office manager had to set up a scenario to keep this stuff under the radar. Perhaps it all went on with the total innocence of the patients, perhaps not. There is not enough info here to ascertain.

    I have never been in a dentist’s office, even a clinic, where I could not tell the difference between the ‘dentist’ and the rest of the people who work there.

    My observation brought in human nature. Regardless of assumptions, good old human nature is often involved. Of course the office manager will take the hit unless the dentist can be proven involved. The insurance company is typically not liable when fraud and/or negligence is involved. That is to say, if it can be proven that you burned down your own house, you probably won’t get any money to rebuild from the insurance company.

  12. isaac

    The first line of your comment was that obviously the patients and this woman were in collusion. Do you recall writing that? Trust me, I have no trouble reading or comprehending. There is no obvious collusion here, given the facts that were presented. I don’t immediately assume that victims of a crime and the perpetrator of the harm are in collusion. My first instinct would be to view them as victims, especially seeing the charges that are leveled against the woman. Again, more facts will surface. Blaming the victims, by stating that they should take their licks and go to a real dentist next time, as you stated (do you remember?) is unfair. These people did go to a real dentist, and this woman, working there, held herself out to be a real dentist. It is also relevant, in my opinion, to note that this occurred in the Bronx. It’s significant because this location would, probably, attract local residents, many of whom are poor and/or immigrants. They may not notice the same red flags that others, who are far more educated or sophisticated, would in this situation. I don’t believe that members of that community would think about asking to see credentials first. Not a slam, just a thought. I could also see them paying in cash as normal behavior, so the transactions would again not trigger a red flag to the patients. You do know that cash receipt books may be purchased from your local office supply, don’t you? Stating that they basically got was coming to them is, as I stated, blaming the victims. For shame.

  13. issac

    By the way, if the dentist, himself, had personal knowledge, he should be charged, as well. He still has liability, in my opinion, even if he didn’t know, since the work was performed in his office. It’s the difference between criminal and civil liability.

  14. Hmmm. Well, at least she deserves an Irish Poem for being nervy!

    Valbona Dentata???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    To all of the fears in our crania,
    Add the “unlicensed quack from Albania”
    ‘Cause this Dental Plan- – –
    Shades of Marathon Man!
    Is enough to induce a new mania!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    Note 1: Marathon Man was a movie about oral hygiene and stuff:

    Note 2: The title is a word play on vagina dentata, a well described phobia, with some basis in reality. As wiki notes:

    Vagina dentata (Latin for toothed vagina) describes a folk tale in which a woman’s vagina is said to contain teeth, with the associated implication that sexual intercourse might result in injury, emasculation or castration for the man involved.

    In her controversial best-seller Sexual Personae (1991), Camille Paglia wrote:

    The toothed vagina is no sexist hallucination: every penis is made less in every vagina, just as mankind, male and female, is devoured by mother nature.[13]

    In his book The Wimp Factor, Stephen J. Ducat expresses a similar view, that these myths express the threat sexual intercourse poses for men who, although entering triumphantly, always leave diminished.[14]

    In rare instances, teeth may be found in a vagina. Dermoid cysts are formed from the outer layers of embryonic skin cells. These cells are able to mature into teeth, bones or hair, and these cysts are able to form anywhere the skin is or where the skin folds inwards to become another organ, such as in the ear or the vagina. Dermoid cysts occur most commonly in the ovary. If it ruptures there, the teeth may migrate through the vagina.[1][15][16]

    (PS: I just bet that no other legal blog is having a discussion today about this fascinating topic!)

  15. Squeaky

    You are always so funny and clever!

  16. I have no opinion…I pretty much hate all dentists…except for the oral surgeons who helped put my head back together in an Army Evac hospital long ago.

  17. That is really funny Squeaky. I can’t imagine what kind of psycho would go in and beat on someone’s mouth but an oral sadist? Wat do you think Paul and Pogo? Oral Sadism anyone? 😉

  18. @bam bam and happypappies

    Thank you!!! I am glad you enjoyed it! Here is a really good link I discovered on the topic.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  19. Valbona may not have been as funny, but this is a great scene from the Carol Burnett show.

JONATHAN TURLEY

DrPatients in the Bronx have learned that the dentist who performed their procedures — including botched procedures — was actually not a doctor but an office manager. Valbona Yzeiraj, 45, worked as an office manager at Dr. Jeffrey Schoengold’s office and claimed that she was a trained professional from her native Albania. However, even if true, she is not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S. but performed procedures on patients, including a root canal that left a patient with an infection and another with “persistent pain” two years after the procedure.

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10 scams to watch out for this Fraud Prevention Month

Global News Web Coordinator, Breaking News via Erika Trucker

Online Reporter Global News

FILE: This file photo shows credit and bank cards with electronic chips.
AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File
CALGARY – Some fraud prevention tips might seem like common sense: Don’t give out your social insurance number or write it on cheques, check your debit and credit card statements closely, and don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight or on weekends. But government and business leaders are highlighting popular scams consumers should watch out for as they launch Fraud Prevention Month.

Correction Visa-Travel Tracker story Edmonton police and Alberta government launch Fraud Prevention Month
“Canadians are shopping and banking online more than ever, but these activities do pose risks,” said Steven Blaney, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in a statement.

The president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving southern Alberta and east Kootenay said people might not think they’re a likely target if they’re familiar with certain scams, but technology has made it easier to create authentic-looking logos, business names and URLs.

“It can be easy to miss the warning signs,” said Sandra Crozier-McKee in a statement. “Scammers are also able to reach consumers directly through mobile devices which can make it easier to fall victim to their tricks.”

Calgary police said fraud complaints have increased significantly over the past 3 years: In 2012, there were 2,881 complaints and in 2014, they reached 3,052. Equifax Canada suggests fraud accounts for 54 per cent of all cybercrimes reported to police, citing Statistics Canada data. Fraud-related crime costs Canada between $15-billion and $30-billion annually, said the credit check company in a release.

The BBB says these are believed to be the most pervasive scams over the last year:

10. Sweepstakes scam – This one has been around for years: You get a message saying you’ve won a contest, lottery or sweepstakes event. Then you’re asked to pay fees or taxes in advance in order to claim your prize.

9. Click bait scam – Scammers use “click bait” such as news stories, celebrity photos, or fake news in order to get you to click on something that actually downloads malware that can harm your computer.

8. Robocall scam – This scam takes personal information like your credit card number, after promising to lower your credit card interest rates, but then charges fees to your card.

7. Government grant scam – Another one that requests fees so you can collect a government grant award for thousands of dollars. It may mention programs you’ve heard in the news.

6. Emergency or “grandparent” scam – Often preying on older people, a scammer poses as a relative in a call or email claiming to have been injured, robbed or arrested while traveling overseas. They ask their target to send money right away.

Watch below: Tony Tighe explains how the “grandparent” scam works and what you can do to avoid falling victim to it Nov. 21, 2014.

5. Medical alert scam: This involves a call or a visit from a “company” claiming a concerned family member has ordered you a medical alert device in case of an emergency. The scammer takes credit card or banking information, but never delivers the device.

4. Copycat website scam: Scammers send an email, text or social media post about a sale or exciting new product, linking to a website that looks like a legitimate retailer. After you order using your credit card, you get a cheap counterfeit product or nothing at all.

3. “Are you calling yourself?” scam: This trick puts your number in so it shows up on your own Caller ID, which causes many people to answer the phone or return the call.

2. Tech support scam: A call or pop-up ad on your computer claims to be from Microsoft / Norton / Apple about a problem on your computer and asking you to give “tech support” access to your hard drive in order to fix it. Instead, malware is installed on your computer and the scammers can steal your personal information.

1. Arrest scam: This trick starts with a call from someone claiming to be a police officer or government agent (often the CRA in Canada) who say they are coming to arrest you for overdue taxes or for skipping out on jury duty. They claim you can get out of it by sending them money via a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.

“Often what we find are the victims are losing a lot of money and to tell that to family and friends is a little bit embarrassing,” said Calgary Police Staff Sgt. Kristie Verheul. “One of the messages we want to get out there is: You’re a victim of crime like anybody else, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it, and you should come forward with that.”

Equifax suggests checking your credit report at least once a year and reporting discrepancies immediately. Using strong passwords, activating the firewall on your computer, and never giving out personal information unless you have initiated the contact are some of their top tips to avoid fraud.

For more tips on fraud prevention, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the Competition Bureau, GetCyberSafe.ca, or the RCMP.

Here are some other scams Global reporters Tony Tighe and Jayme Doll have covered in the past, including real estate, loan and Enmax scams:

Suspicious real estate listings in Calgary

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