Janitorial Fraud Ring Targets Austin Medical Facilities: Who’s in Your Office?

By Jeanine Lehman, Attorney at Law

Dental offices are targets of thieves.  Thieves have many faces including the front desk person stealing cash, the addict taking controlled substances, and the office manager embezzling funds.  Thieves may also have the faces of your janitors and their confederates. The jackpot is the information comprising the identities of the dental practice’s patients, staff and dentists.  Recently, an Austin-based janitorial fraud ring targeted medical facilities to steal patient identities.

In the multi-million dollar Austin-based “stolen identity refund fraud” scheme, the defendants engaged in a fraudulent scheme to steal the identity of hundreds of US citizens and exploit those identities for financial gain by filing fraudulent income tax returns and by opening credit cards in the names of the victims.  Money laundering was also involved. The intended loss of the fraud conspiracy was approximately $3.9 million. Among the ways that the conspiracy illegally acquired Personal Identification Information (PII) of US victims was through operating cleaning services in the Austin area, cleaning offices, and then looting those offices of PII.  Among the locations the conspiracy victimized were medical facilities, where patient files were stolen. The indictment indicated that one of the defendants and one of the at-large suspects owned cleaning franchises.

On April 27, 2018, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel sentenced the two apprehended foreign nationals to 8 years and 7 years in federal prison and ordered payment of restitution in the amount of $1,358,489 for these identity theft crimes.  Two additional suspects were still at large at the time of the sentencing. For more information on this identity theft fraud scheme, see the U.S. Attorney’s Office press release at:  While the federal indictment did not list the names of dental practices as victims, dental practices can fall prey to the same identity theft crimes.

Jeanine Lehman is an Austin, Texas dental, health and business law attorney with a statewide practice – She can be reached at (512) 918-3435 or © Jeanine Lehman 2018. This article is not legal advice.

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Horace Wells and William Morton

Horace Wells (1815-1848) was a compassionate dentist of deep religious convictions.  In the aftermath of an especially agonizing dental operation, he would sometimes stop work for several weeks, too traumatized by the need to inflict such terrible pain on his patients to continue.  Fortunately, he persevered.

8-18Dentist in History-Horace Wells

On 10th December 1844, Wells recognized that nitrous oxide might prove a godsend to surgical medicine.  Wells decided that the first guinea pig should be himself.  So, he had an erupting wisdom tooth extracted using the higher dosages of nitrous oxide needed to induce insensibility.  The extraction was a success, and he performed over a dozen extractions using nitrous oxide within a month. His student and partner, William Morton, encouraged him to demonstrate his finding.  The demonstration at Massachusetts General Hospital failed because the gas bag was withdrawn too soon, and the patient was only partially anesthetized.  He continued his attempts to promote nitrous oxide anesthesia, even travelling to Europe, where there was wider acceptance.


8-18Dentist in History-William Morton

Meanwhile, William Morton experimented with ether, and administered the first successful general anesthetic to a patient for the removal of a neck tumor.  The demonstration was performed at the same location where Wells was disgraced, which is now a historical monument called The Ether Dome.

Both Wells and Morton died despondent and bankrupt.  Every dentist should read their very important biographies as their contributions are medical, surgical and ethical milestones.

6-18Dentists in History-Barney Clark

Barney Clark

On December 2, 1982 Seattle dentist Barney Clark became the first human recipient of a permanent artificial heart. He survived the heart, and the accompanying media circus, for 112 days.
Clark, 61, was the ideal candidate, suffering from debilitating congestive heart failure. Doctors determined that he was too sick to be eligible for a heart transplant, leaving the implant of an artificial heart his only option.
Clark’s predicament coincided with the FDA approving a new artificial heart for human implantation, a device known as the Jarvik 7. It was named for one of its key developers, Dr. Robert Jarvik, at the University of Utah. The Jarvik 7 was state-of-the-art for its time, and was the first one designed for permanent use. It employed a heart-shaped pump that was implanted into the patient. An external pneumatic compressor, connected to the pump by tubes running through the chest wall, regulated
blood flow.

He never left the hospital after his transplant, and ultimately died of “circulatory collapse and secondary multi-organ system failure” triggered by cytomegalovirus infection that was likely the result of a blood

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Edgar Buchanan (1903-1979)

Edgar Buchanan (1903–1979) At the age of seven, he and his family moved to Oregon. After studying at the University of Oregon, he followed in his father’s footsteps and became a dentist, graduating from North Pacific Dental College. He was a member of Theta Chi Fraternity (Alpha Sigma Chapter, University of Oregon) From 1929 to 1937, he practiced oral surgery in Eugene, Oregon. He then moved his practice to Altadena, CA. There he joined the Pasadena Community Playhouse, giving up dentistry at age 36. He turned the practice over to his wife and began his acting career.

Dr. Buchanan appeared in a total of 13 different productions with Glenn Ford. His friend of many years, Glenn Ford, once told a story of when Edgar was preparing to do some painful dental work on him. The anesthesia consisted of others passing by and allowing the patient, Glenn, to take swallows of whiskey to help ease the pain of the process. About every third drink Glenn took, Edgar took one as well.

Dr. Buchanan made his film debut in 1939. His chubby face and gravelly voice were featured in over 100 films, but he is perhaps best known for TV roles in Hopalong Cassidy (1952), Judge Roy Bean (1955), Petticoat Junction (1963), and Cade’s County (1971). He played the same character (Uncle Joe Carson) on three different series: The Beverly Hillbillies (1962), Petticoat Junction (1963) and Green Acres (1965). His favorite role was in Texas (1941).