Hoverboarding dentist convicted of Medicaid fraud in Alaska

DAN JOLING

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska dentist, who gained notoriety after he was seen in a video riding a hoverboard and pulling teeth, was convicted Friday of defrauding the Alaska Medicaid program.

Seth Lookhart was convicted of 46 counts, including felony medical assistance fraud and scheming to defraud, and misdemeanor counts of illegally practicing dentistry and reckless endangerment, prosecutors said.

The conviction followed a five-week bench trial before Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton, who said in a written finding that he found the state's evidence “simply overwhelming.”

He also said Lookhart's own text conversations were persuasive. Friends had asked Lookhart how he got away with some of his practices.

“Dr. Lookhart responded, in effect, that unless someone was standing right next to him at the time, no one would ever know," Wolverton wrote.

The judge also convicted Lookhart's corporation, Lookhart Dental LLC, which did business as Clear Creek Dental, of 40 criminal counts.

Lookhart's office manager, Shauna Cranford, previously pleaded guilty to medical assistance fraud as part of a plea agreement.

Lookhart in 2014 was a new dentist who took a job working for two established dentists. He was to be paid either $240,000 a year or 30% of the money he brought in, whichever was higher, assistant attorney general Eric Senta said.

Cranford persuaded Lookhart to offer intravenous sedation to Medicaid patients as an alternative to less costly anesthesia. The cost of IV sedation generally is not included in a patient’s $1,150 annual limit for non-emergency dental procedures.

The practice became lucrative for Lookhart, prosecutors said, and his practice in 2016 accounted for 31% of all Medicaid payments for IV sedation.

Lookhart also schemed to cut out his partners by billing Medicaid under a different provider identification and having payments sent directly to his home, prosecutors said.

Since Lookhart obtained an IV sedation license in 2015, prosecutors said, Medicaid paid him about $1.9 million for IV sedation services.

The felony medical assistance fraud, theft in the first degree, and scheme to defraud charges carry a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $100,000 and restitution. The top counts for the business carry a potential fine of up to $2.5 million.

Cranford is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 3. Lookhart is scheduled to be sentenced April 30.