ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) – A dentist in Alaska will spend more than a decade behind bars for Medicaid fraud.
The tough sentence came in large part to the doctor’s own text messages. The video of the Alaska dentist extracting a sedated woman’s tooth while riding a hoverboard is just a shred of evidence in a case unlike any other.
In a Medicaid fraud scheme, Seth Lookhart and his former office manager pushed patients to undergo excessive and needless IV sedation, in order to bill Medicaid for the service.
While patients were out, some had breathing and heart complications. Others woke up to discover Lookhart worked on or removed the wrong teeth.
“This is not an economic crime,” Eric Senta, with the Alaska Office of Special Prosecutions, said. “This is not a case where the court is sentencing someone who stole $2 million. Lookhart hurt people, vulnerable people, disabled children.”
Lookhart’s attorney pointed to his good behavior, while out on bail and said he’s already received punishment.
“He’s lost a business,” defense attorney Kevin Fitzgerald said. “There are – as this honor, this court is well-aware – civil suits. There’s been negative publicity and the likely loss of his license, which, again, is pending.”
Lookhart called it a transformative process. He apologized and said, he’s a changed man.
“I know I would be my best self and in turn, able to serve my family and my community best if I were granted the privilege and the hope of a renewed lease on life practicing dentistry and living among those that I love,” Lookhart said.
Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton said he was struck by pages and pages of text messages in which Lookhart showed no remorse.
“You darn near killed some people,” Wolverton said. “Not just once, and not just twice. People who should, some of them, have never been in your office and you knew it. And then after that you bragged about it in your texting.”
He then gave the woman the last word: Reading her testimony from trial.
“I think what you did was so outrageous, narcissistic and crazy,” Wolverton read from the testimony. “So I forgive you for all that, but there’s obviously a high-priced lesson that you’re going to have to learn.”
It was a lesson in the form of a 20-year sentence, with eight years suspended. The cost: 12 years to serve.
Lookhart will start serving his sentence on Dec 7. His attorney plans to ask the Department of Corrections if his client can do it at home wearing an ankle monitor.