Florida Imposter Arrested ‘Playing Dentist,’ Medicaid Fraud

March 27, 2006

A Miami-Dade County man has been arrested for practicing dentistry without a license and submitting fraudulent Medicaid claims according to Florida’s Attorney General Charlie Crist.

Orlando Sotolongo Guarton allegedly posed under the name of an actual licensed dentist for the past year.

An investigation by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit revealed that Sotolongo, 48, had been treating patients under the name of Dr. Lorenzo Puentes, providing invasive dental services and issuing prescriptions for antibiotics and painkillers.

Among the dental services Sotolongo allegedly performed were extractions, sometimes done without anesthesia. He also submitted Medicaid claims for the dental services performed as if he were a licensed dentist, defrauding the Medicaid program out of more than $1,600. The level of Dr. Puentes’s potential involvement is still under investigation.

“This quack put patients’ health at risk and stole from the taxpayers,” Crist said. “We cannot and will not sit back and allow someone to play dentist and disregard the well-being of unsuspecting victims.”

Among the patients who were treated by Sotolongo was an elderly Medicaid recipient identified as “LP.” This patient identified Sotolongo as the person who performed extensive dental work on him, including extracting all of his teeth and providing him with dentures.

A second Medicaid patient told investigators that Sotolongo performed surgery on him to remove an abscessed tooth.

Both patients identified Sotolongo in a photo lineup as the “dentist” who worked under the name Dr. Lorenzo Puentes; when shown a picture of the real Dr. Puentes, they were unable to identify him.

“This is not just a case of fraud,” explained said Spencer Levine, director of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. “This is a case of putting patients’ safety at risk.”

The investigation into Sotolongo’s activities was initiated by information received from the Florida Department of Health. A search warrant was executed March 27 at Puentes Dental Services, where Sotolongo worked. The investigation into the Medicaid fraud is ongoing.

Sotolongo is charged with five counts of practicing dentistry without a license and one count of Medicaid fraud, both third-degree felonies. If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 30 years in prison and $30,000 in fines. The case will be prosecuted by the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office.

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