A dentist pleaded no contest Tuesday to felony charges alleging that she performed unnecessary work on several patients in Daly City and then altered a judge’s order and stole someone’s identity to seek other dental jobs during her pending court case, San Mateo County prosecutors said.
Amishi Patel, 43, was a part-time dentist at Campus Heights Dental Care in Daly City, where she performed unnecessary dental work on at least eight patients between April 2014 and May 2015, according to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
The case came to light when the family of a patient contacted the Dental Board of California, which contacted the state Department of Insurance, which contacted the district attorney’s office about the alleged insurance fraud, Wagstaffe said.
Among the patients was a 16-year-old girl who Patel recommended receive 16 fillings. Patel performed eight of the fillings before the girl’s father became suspicious and took her for a second opinion, prosecutors said.
Three subsequent dentists determined the girl had no signs of cavities, did not need any fillings and said the eight fillings from Patel were so poorly performed that they needed to be replaced, prosecutors said.
Patel was charged this February for the cases in Daly City and a judge ordered her not to practice dentistry as a condition of her release on bail, but investigators eventually learned she had altered the order to make it appear that it had been rescinded days later, prosecutors said.
She used the altered order to get temporary employment as a dentist in Fremont, where she treated four patients.
Patel also called another dentist with a name similar to hers, pretending to be from a dental insurance company, and obtained the dentist’s license number that she then used to apply for several dental jobs in Fremont, including an interview attended by an undercover officer, prosecutors said.
Those cases took place between June and July of this year, Wagstaffe said.
Patel pleaded no contest Tuesday to felony insurance fraud, assault, identity theft and forgery on the condition that she receive a sentence of up to a year in county jail and a referral to mental health court, according to the district attorney’s office.
"She got a very light sentence," Wagstaffe said of the plea deal, adding that San Mateo County Superior Court Donald Ayoob "had leniency for her because he thinks there are mental issues there."
Prosecutors had sought a sentence of up to five years in state prison for Patel.
"We think the only mental issue is she’s a fraud," Wagstaffe said.
The case will return to court on Jan. 12 for an intake conference for the mental health court and to set a sentencing date.
Patel’s defense attorney Jonathan McDougall was not immediately available for comment on the case.