Diego Perez Cedeno, 39, of Springfield, was arrested and charged with illegally performing dentistry without being licensed by the State Board of Dentistry, a third degree crime; unlawful possession of prescription drugs, a second-degree crime; and illegal possession of hypodermic needles, a fourth-degree crime. At his arrest, more than 100 doses of Lidocaine, a prescription anesthetic, were found by investigators from the Division of Consumer Affairs' Enforcement Bureau and the Elizabeth Police Department.
"A license is more than a piece of paper. A license represents years of study and hard work to meet practice requirements set by our Professional Licensing Boards, and the ongoing commitment to continuing education needed for license renewal," Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. "Unlicensed practice puts the public at unnecessary risk and is a slap in the face to our licensees."
Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked the Elizabeth Police Department for its participation and assistance in this investigation.
Police arrested Cedeno at his work location at 1128 South Elmora Avenue. Cedeno only accepted cash for the dental work he performed and investigators observed that he charged $100 to tighten brace wires.
"Patients entrust medical and dental professionals with their most precious possession – their health," Acting Consumer Affairs Director Steve C. Lee said. "Unlicensed practice is a direct threat to one's health and our Enforcement Bureau investigators are working hand in hand with law enforcement agencies to stop these criminals."
Elizabeth Police Department Investigations Commander, Captain William Pinho, commended the collaborative investigation between the Division of Consumer Affairs and the Elizabeth Police Department Detective Bureau and encouraged any person who has been victimized by this unlicensed "dentist" to contact Detective David Conrad at 908-527-6517.
Consumers who suspect an unlicensed person is offering service that only a licensed dentist can legally perform can contact the state Board of Dentistry at 973-504-6405. Complaints can also be filed online.
Consumers on limited budgets who are in need of dental services have options for treatment, such as contacting a community health clinic that offers dental services. A directory of dental health clinics located in New Jersey can be viewed online.
The Rutgers School of Dental Medicine in Newark also offers dental procedures performed by predoctoral or postgraduate students who work under the direction of faculty members who are licensed dentists. For more information, call 973-972-7370.