Testimony: Undercover sting catches Robert Mansueto telling two very different stories

Dentist charged with working without a license
Posted at 11:07 AM, Feb 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-10 14:07:02-05

Dr. Bob Franco told an investigator posing as a  patient he would take her to Tijuana to place dental implants in her mouth. Several minutes after the undercover operative left his Coronado home, an investigator from the Dental Board of California knocked on his door. Shannon Reza asked him if he took patients to Mexico for treatment.

"He immediately told me that was crazy," testified Shannon Reza in the second day of testimony in the preliminary hearing for the dentist investigators say called himself Dr. Bob Franco, even though his real name is Dr. Robert Mansueto.

Mansueto lost his license to practice dentistry in the state of California more than a decade ago. Reza testified he lost it because of, "negligence and incompetence".

Mansueto is charged with 23 criminal counts including practicing dentistry without a license, practicing under a false name and grand theft.

On the second day of his preliminary hearing Reza testified on behalf of four patients named in the complaint.   The patients found out about the dentist in an ad in the San Diego Reader.  When they the number, they spoke to a man who called himself Dr. Bob Franco. Franco asked them to meet him at his house in Coronado, telling them he would drive them to a "state of the art" dental facility in Tijuana for treatment.

The patients stories were first revealed by Team 10 after the roommate of one of the patients figured out Dr. Bob Franco was actually Mansueto. She contacted Team 10, and we observed three different women getting in his car outside his home in the Coronado Cays and taking the short drive across the Mexico border.

Reza testified she set up an undercover operation. Another dental board investigator called the number on the Apple Dental ad.  A man answered the phone telling her his name was Dr. Bob Franco. He told the investigator he could help her get inexpensive implants because the work would be done in Mexico and that the price would be even cheaper because he owned his own implant company.

They set an appointment. A second dental board investigator joined her for her appointment. Reza testified the investigator told "Dr. Bob" she was a "nervous dental patient." Reza said the dentist, who investigators already knew was Mansueto, offered her a tranquilizer. When she declined, claiming she had a hard time swallowing pills, Mansueto told her she could put it under her tongue or chew it.

The investigator again declined, according to Reza's testimony.

The two women created a ruse to leave Mansueto's home, telling him they couldn't go to Mexico that day because of a family emergency.

Several minutes later, after speaking to the undercover investigators, Reza testified she and a fourth investigator knocked on Mansueto's door. They introduced themselves as investigators from the Dental Board of California and began asking him questions, Reza said.

Mansueto not only denied taking patients to Mexico for treatment, he also denied ever advertising with the name Dr. Bob Franco.

Mansueto's attorney asked Reza several questions about her investigation, and the testimony of the alleged victims. Gretchen Von Helms reminded Reza that one of the patients named in the complaint against Mansueto, returned to him for a second round of treatment, indicating she had no problem with the level of care he gave her.

The preliminary hearing will continue Tuesday. After hearing from one more prosecution witness, the judge will decide whether there's enough evidence to send Mansueto's case to trial.

Mansueto has pleaded not guilty to all 23 counts.