Esteban Campos pleaded guilty in Orange County Superior Court Wednesday to representing himself as a dentist despite having no license to practice and of stashing a large inventory of dental narcotics and other drugs.
The Buena Park 47-year-old was sentenced to 30 days in jail, five years of probation, ordered to pay restitution and $500 in fines and prohibited from offering dental treatments, consultations, or otherwise practicing dentistry for patients for the duration of his probation.
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A conviction without the guilty plea could have had Campos dealing with, ahem, fillings in state prison for up to eight years.
As the Orange County District Attorney's office proved in Superior Court, Campos operated Steven's Dental Lab in Buena Park through last December, when the Department of Consumer Affairs Dental Board of California received a complaint about him. Authorities did some digging and discovered Campos had no valid license to practice dentistry. California had once registered Campos as a dental assistant, but that license expired in 2007.
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Undercover investigators then posed as patients in need of dental work twice between February and March. Sure enough, Campos claimed to them to be a dentist, performing oral exams, giving diagnoses, suggesting surgery and braces, and making a follow-up appointment. He also quoted rates ranging from $65 to $2,000--so he wasn't even an inexpensive phony dentist.
A subsequent raid of Campos' office uncovered a large cache of controlled substances and dental narcotics, including morphine sulfer, Vicodin and Soma, as well as boxes of omeprazole, naproxen, theramine, glucotrol, warfarin, sertraline, cyclobenzaprine, tramadol, ketogel cream, and lidocaine. Again, Campos was not licensed to prescribe these to patients without a license or scripts.
His deception spread to county Social Services, where Campos received more than $6,600 in food stamp benefits in 2010 by failing to report the income received in the form of dental payments by patients.