NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrests of four individuals for allegedly practicing dentistry without a license at two Brooklyn dental clinics, which are separately owned by a father and his son who are licensed dentists. The men, arrested on felony charges, are Konstantin Shtrambrand, Ilya Zolotar, Sergey Tolokolnikov, and Hakob Gahnapetyan. If convicted, they face up to four years in prison.
“New Yorkers deserve to have confidence that the people providing them healthcare are licensed professionals,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Plain and simple: there is one set of rules for everyone and my office will not tolerate those who seek to skirt the rules, including in the medical profession.”
In court filings, the Attorney General’s Office charged that Shtrambrand, 43, Zolotar, 48, and Tolokolnikov, 54, held themselves out to be dentists and were practicing dentistry at J.S. Atlantic Dental, P.C., located at 1707 Avenue P, Brooklyn. Gahnapetyan, 44, held himself out as a dentist and practiced dentistry at the dental office of Grigory Shyknevsky, D.D.S., at 2523 Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn. J.S. Atlantic Dental is owned by Joseph Grigory Shyknevsky, DDS, the son of Grigory Shyknevsky. At the time of the arrests, search warrants were executed at their practice locations; the investigation is continuing.
The unlicensed defendants were arrested yesterday following an undercover investigation by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU). During the undercover operation, undercover investigators allegedly observed each of the defendants examining patients inside the dental offices. The defendants wore medical clothing, plastic gloves and performed dental work. The investigators also witnessed a defendant performing dental procedures on another patient.
During each observed examination, each defendant allegedly placed their hands in a patient’s mouth. Shtrambrand, Gahnapetyan, Tolokolnikov gave medical advice – something that only a licensed dentist can do. In one instance, Zolotar was seen drilling a patient’s tooth, an invasive and potentially dangerous procedure that only a licensed dentist can perform. The defendants’ alleged actions routinely placed patients at risk because they received dental care from an unqualified person.
Under the New York State Education Law, only a person licensed to practice dentistry can practice dentistry in New York or use the title “dentist.” Anyone who practices, offers to practice or holds himself out as being able to practice dentistry without a New York State license is committing a crime.
Following their arrest by investigators from MFCU, the defendants were arraigned in New York City Criminal Court, Brooklyn before Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino. They each face one felony count of Unlawful Practice of a Profession (Dentistry), a class E Felony. MFCU’s investigation into defendants’ employers continues.
The charges in the criminal complaint are accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.
The investigation was conducted by MFCU Special Investigator Alex Kats and Special Auditor Investigator Robyn Irby-Organ with the assistance of Senior Special Investigator Al Maiorano, Deputy Chief Investigator Kenneth Morgan, Senior Special Auditor Investigator Cristina Marin and Regional Chief Auditor Thomasina Smith.
The Attorney General thanked the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations (Region II) for referring this matter to his office.
The criminal case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Herman Wun with the assistance of Deputy Regional Director Larissa Payne and Regional Director Christopher M. Shaw. Thomas O’Hanlon is MFCU’s Chief of Criminal Investigations – Downstate. MFCU is led by Acting Special Deputy Attorney General Amy Held. The Criminal Justice Division is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.