SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A Coronado dentist accused of taking patients across the U.S.-Mexico border to receive dental work under a fake name was sentenced Friday.
Robert Mansueto was sentenced to four years and four months in prison, after pleading guilty to two felony counts and three misdemeanor counts against him, including unlicensed dentistry with the risk of bodily harm, grand theft, and practicing of dentistry under a false name.
He will also spend eight months under supervised release.
The judge added that the unlicensed dentist is "not the dentist he thinks he is" and showed criminal sophistication.
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Mansueto is accused of taking patients to Tijuana for dental implants. The shoddy work resulted in painful results for Donna Cooper, who said the implants became infected and her sinuses were perforated during a session.
"It makes me angry. It makes me terribly sad. There's a whole host of stuff running around in my head right now," said Donna Cooper, who warned other prospective patients to do their homework before having implants placed.
Cooper has been in and out of hospitals since she was treated by Mansueto in Tijuana. She still doesn't have replacement teeth. Cooper lost 70 pounds and is now confined to a wheelchair.
Her voice shook and several observers in the courtroom were seen wiping away tears as she spoke.
"You hurt me gravely, "Cooper said, adding, "I will have to try to overcome all that you have done. See me now and memorize me, and then try to fall asleep with my vision in your head, on your cot in your orange. Shame on you for taking advantage of a disabled elderly woman."
Mansueto's attorney argued that he was under severe emotional strain after losing a son to suicide, and his wife to an overdose. Gretchen Von Helms said although her client had done some bad things he deserved a lenient sentence.
Mansueto offered an apology, read from a piece of paper. It said in part:
"Words cannot fully express the regret and sorrow that I feel, having caused all this trouble, not only for the patients and victims involved here, but also for my family. I ask again for your and the victims' forgiveness and allow us to make amends."
Mansueto's attorney told Team 10 the guilty plea is viewed as a victory, resolving the case for what they argue actually happened. Shannon Reza with the Dental Board of California said Mansueto advertised as a dentist after he lost his state license more than a decade ago due to "negligence and incompetence."
Mansueto faced more than 20 charges when his trial began.