As Veronica Wilhelm lay sedated in a dental chair, her dentist was filmed riding a hoverboard while he extracted her tooth.
Wilhelm says she didn’t know about the hoverboard, or that her procedure in July 2016 was captured on camera. She found out only when investigators contacted her to confirm she was the patient in the video.
According to a lawsuit filed by the state of Alaska in April 2017, her dentist, Seth Lookhart, texted the clip to friends and family, joking in at least one conversation that performing oral surgery while on a hoverboard was a “new standard of care.”
The state of Alaska charged Lookhart with “unlawful dental acts” for the incident, stating that his patient care did not conform to the minimum professional standards of dentistry, according to the lawsuit.
The hoverboard incident is one of the more than 40 charges that Lookhart faces.
He was charged with medical assistance fraud, for allegedly billing Medicaid more than $25,000 for procedures that were either unnecessary or not properly justified. His other charges include engaging a scheme to defraud Alaska Medicaid of $10,000, and theft of $25,000 or more by diverting funds from Alaska Dental Arts, among other accusations laid out in the lawsuit.
Records show that Lookhart’s dentistry license was suspended in June 2017.
Lookhart has pleaded not guilty on all counts.
Patient called hoverboard incident ‘unprofessional’
Lookhart’s attorney Paul Stockler said he did not believe that what his client has been accused of amount to crimes under Alaska law, and told CNN that the charges were not “nearly as simple” as the state had made them.
“You really have to take all the firm statutes and billing manuals and kind of mesh them together to figure out whether he broke the law,” Stockler said.
At Lookhart’s trial on Wednesday, Wilhelm testified that Lookhart did not ask whether she was comfortable with him performing her tooth extraction while he was on a hoverboard, CNN affiliate KTUU reported.
She said that she would never have consented.
“I would’ve said, ‘Hell no!’ No, that’s unprofessional. It’s crazy,” Wilhelm said.
Lookhart’s trial began November 12 and evidence presentation concluded on Thursday, Stockler said. The judge has given the state until December 9 to file closing arguments, he said.
In the video, Lookhart can be seen standing on a hoverboard in the operating room while he pulls out a patient’s tooth. Soon after, he zooms out of the room, takes his gloves off and throws both hands up in the air while zipping down the hallway.
Stockler apologized to Wilhelm during his cross-examination, KTUU reported.
“I want you to know that as his lawyer, I apologize for what he did on that hoverboard,” he said. “It’s unacceptable and you can be assured that when I agreed to represent him, I got in his face and told him what I thought about him for doing this.”
On Friday, Stockler reiterated that his client had made a “terrible lapse in judgment.” But the question, he said, is how Lookhart should be punished.
“Should he lose his dental license for a period of time, for forever? Is it a crime?” he told CNN. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years. He’s not the first person to do something idiotic. I’ve seen things a lot worse and nobody’s ever had criminal charges filed against them. As the law is written, I don’t believe that’s a crime.”
In court, Stockler offered Wilhelm a chance to address her dentist directly, according to KTUU.
“I don’t have anything bad to say about you taking out my tooth, I appreciate that, but I just think that what you did was outrageous, narcissistic, you know, and crazy,” she said. “I forgive you for all of that, but there’s obviously a high-priced lesson that you’re going to have to learn.”
This story has been updated to include more information about the lawsuit and comment from the dentist’s lawyer.