SAN DIEGO - A former Coronado dentist and the subject of a recent Team 10 investigation pleaded not guilty to 11 charges linked to accusations of practicing dentistry without a license.
Border Patrol agents arrested 63-year-old Robert Mansueto on Wednesday, and he was initially booked into the San Diego Central Jail on five felony counts, including practicing dentistry without a license and practicing medicine without certification. His bail was set at $200,000.
Deputy San Diego District Attorney Gina Darvas said the bail amount was appropriate since she believes Mansueto is a danger to the community and a flight risk.
In April, a Team 10 investigation revealed that Mansueto, whose license was revoked in 2005, was possibly practicing dentistry under the name Dr. Bob Franco. The Team 10 investigation determined he was meeting patients at his Coronado home and driving them down to Tijuana, where another dentist would assist Mansueto in performing dental implant surgery.
Several patients approached Team 10 after complaints about substandard work. There is no record in California of any licensed dentist named Dr. Bob Franco.
"I don't consider myself an easy mark, and yet I was. He was that charming and persuasive," said Donna Cooper, who said she lost 13 teeth at the hands of Mansueto.
Mansueto allegedly lured Cooper and other patients with an advertisement in the San Diego Reader. The ad promised a "new and improved dental implant system with shorter treatment time" at "greatly reduced fees."
Team 10 went undercover, following Mansueto's car as Cooper and another woman rode with him into Tijuana. Team 10 later learned from Cooper that her mouth became infected and one of her implants fell out. She claimed Mansueto pierced one of her sinus cavities.
Cooper is not named in the criminal complaint against Mansueto, but two other women Team 10 interviewed during their investigation were. A third woman, described as an investigator from the California Dental Board was also named.
Mansueto is charged with practicing dentistry under a false name, and without a license, but the most serious charges have to do with performing surgery on patients, which requires a medical license.
In total, he faces three felony counts and eight misdemeanors, but the prosecutor handling his case said there could be more, including theft by false pretenses.
In May, 10News learned that a state investigator has been assigned to Mansueto's case and has already interviewed some of the patients from the Team 10 investigation.
If convicted, Mansueto faces up to six years and four months in prison.
Darvas said she believes more victims are out there and encouraged them to contact investigator Jim Clark at 619-531-4070.
In 2009, Mansueto was the subject of a 10News investigation in which he was also reportedly luring patients down to Tijuana despite not having a license to practice dentistry.