4 Investigates: Albuquerque dentist gets probation for practicing without a license
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — William Gardner is an Albuquerque dentist accused of faking records to line his pockets with unneeded procedures. He’s also accused of insurance fraud, tax fraud, shoddy work, and thumbing his nose at both the state dental board and court orders.
Now, Gardner is guilty of practicing dentistry without a license – but he’s not headed to prison.
The special prosecutor in the case spoke to 4 Investigates Wednesday and said a trial is always an option, but he said it’s also a risk.
“Trial results are always uncertain. With a plea, the state has what is effectively a conviction,” said Michael Fricke, special prosecutor. He’s with the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance.
Gardner has refused to plead guilty to tax fraud and to practicing dentistry without a license. He entered a plea of no contest to both, but in the eyes of the law, it’s the same thing as guilty.
That guilty mark will keep him from getting a New Mexico dental license. We don’t know of any other state that would give him a license with a felony – let alone four – on his record.
The deal is three years of probation for the practicing without a license charges. The deal also included an admission that he’s already violated probation for the tax fraud charges.
So, if Gardner violates probation again and the state can prove it, he faces getting tossed into jail or prison for whatever is left of those three years – and another two years because he would be considered a habitual offender.
The state is done with his case for now, but Gardner still has federal exposure through the DEA. They say he prescribed medication without a license.
That case is moving slowly, and prosecutors are losing patience with what they say is a pattern of delays. The U.S. attorney told the court on Tuesday that Gardner showed up to a question and answer session in his case under the influence of a painkiller and muscle relaxer.
The former dentist told attorneys – who are prosecuting him for prescribing medication – that he himself was not sure what medication he’d taken, but that it was “the highest dose you can get.”
After about an hour, prosecutors cut off the interview and now have asked a judge to sanction Gardner and force him to pay for the wasted time.
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