Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs today joined with Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow and the New Providence Police Department, to announce the arrest of an unlicensed dentist accused of falsely using the name and license number of a dentist who died last year, in order to treat patients.
Roben Brookhim, of Short Hills, was arrested on Oct. 2 at Associated Dental in New Providence, where he allegedly practiced dentistry under the assumed name and license number of Dr. John Kirkland, Jr., a dentist who died in October 2011.
Brookhim is charged with the unlicensed practice of dentistry, a third-degree crime; identity theft, a third-degree crime; and healthcare claims fraud, a second-degree crime.
Brookhim allegedly used Kirkland’s name at the New Providence office, as well as at Associated Dental offices in West Orange and Springfield, and a Family Dental Center office in West New York.
Kirkland was registered to practice dentistry at all four offices before he died. The exact relationship between both individuals, and the owners of the dental offices, is still under investigation.
Kirkland died of natural causes; foul play is not suspected in his death.
“Individuals who practice dentistry, medicine, or any other healthcare profession without a license, or after their license has been revoked, create a significant danger to the health and safety of those who rely on them for help; and those who commit healthcare claims fraud create unjustified additional costs for insurance companies, the State, and, ultimately, taxpayers,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said. “The allegations against this defendant are serious. I commend the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Providence Police Department for the important role they played in this investigation and arrest.”
Attorney General Chiesa noted that Brookhim is a formerly licensed dentist. The New Jersey State Board of Dentistry, within the Division of Consumer Affairs, temporarily suspended his license in August 1999, following a complaint by the State alleging multiple counts of insurance claims fraud and patient record violations.
The Board permanently revoked his license in December 2004 following allegations that, while suspended, Brookhim performed dental treatment and submitted billings to insurance companies under the name of another dentist. His license remains revoked.
Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said, “Our Enforcement Bureau aggressively investigates alleged fraud and other matters affecting the quality of healthcare, on behalf of the Board of Dentistry and New Jersey’s other professional licensing boards. It is vitally important that we protect New Jersey’s public health and safety from incompetent and fraudulent practitioners.”
Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow said, “When patients sit in a dentist’s chair and submit to dental examinations and procedures, they have the need and right to know who they’re dealing with, and to know the dentist is duly licensed and credentialed. Practicing dentistry without a license, and identity theft, are crimes with real consequences for their potential victims.”
Although Kirkland is deceased, his license to practice in New Jersey was still officially active at the time of Brookhim’s arrest, with an expiration date in 2013. Kirkland’s license was last renewed on Oct. 14, 2011 – a day before he died.
The investigation by the Division of Consumer Affairs’ Enforcement Bureau, Union County Prosecutor’s Office, and New Providence Police Department began with a complaint that Brookhim was practicing dentistry despite the revocation of his license.
The investigators soon learned Brookhim was allegedly using Kirkland’s name and license number, while practicing in offices previously owned by Kirkland.
Following his arrest, Brookhim was taken to Union County Jail and is being held on $75,000 bail.
These criminal charges are only accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.