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.
41 thoughts on “New York Police Arrest Office Manager Who Allegedly Pretends To Be Dentist And Botched Procedures”
Anyone here on the blog go to Cuba for medical or dental care? I have heard that they are very good and quite inexpensive.
Valbona may not have been as funny, but this is a great scene from the Carol Burnett show.
@bam bam and happypappies
Thank you!!! I am glad you enjoyed it! Here is a really good link I discovered on the topic.
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? 😉
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.
You are always so funny and clever!
Hmmm. Well, at least she deserves an Irish Poem for being nervy!
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!
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:
(PS: I just bet that no other legal blog is having a discussion today about this fascinating topic!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
bam bam – you are absolutely correct. I had a friend who had a beautiful ASU Ph.D. diploma on his wall. It was fake. 🙂
going to, what they assumed, was a dental. . .
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
bam bam – I am one of those who checks out the diplomas on the walls.
Of course the real dentist will be sued. He has insurance! Geez.
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.
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. 🙂
What the hell is assault assault?
If she is being charged with assault in the third degree, shouldn’t it be assault assault assault?
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