Garrett Harris 2 p.m., May 29
California dentist and wife admitted stealing from patients
Dr. Edward and Mary Rose Bodek ran up thousands on credit cards
Dr. Edward J. Bodek, 60, and his wife Mary Rose, 56, admitted this week that they have been stealing from their patients. They ran a dental practice at 317 North El Camino Real in Encinitas, California, for more than twenty years.
Mary Rose Bodek worked the front desk at their practice, she was office manager and financial controller; there were no other employees. The couple had an apartment in nearby Carlsbad.
Dr. Bodek was arrested on March 12, 2013. His wife Mary Rose was arrested two days later when she disembarked a plane at Lindbergh Field, having just arrived from the East Coast. Investigators said they found more than 100 credit cards and store gift cards in her luggage. Mary Rose reportedly told authorities that she had rented seventeen storage units in Maryland, where the couple owned a home.
The doctor and misses have been held in lieu of $1.5 million bail for more than three months. They were charged with 45 felonies each, including conspiracy and theft from elders. There are 22 named victims in a forty-page criminal complaint signed by prosecutor Anna Winn.
All of the alleged victims are elderly, some over 90 years of age. Many were long-time patients of Dr. Edward Bodek “and initially accepted his explanation that the charges were a mistake,” according to prosecutor Winn.
Patients had been complaining to law enforcement for at least a year that unauthorized charges were appearing on their credit cards, usually after their regular dental appointment with Dr. Bodek, the prosecutor stated in court documents. And the surprise charges were often repeated within days; the amounts were substantial, from $2,000 to $10,000 each. Whenever a victim contacted the dental office, the prosecutor alleged, they were told “there must have been a computer error;” but the promised correction never happened.
More than $260,000 in disputed charges were alleged, each Bodek admitted taking more than $65,000 in their plea deals last week, on June 25, 2013.
Investigators searched their California apartment and dental offices. “These locations appeared to be occupied by hoarders with boxes and shopping bags stacked on top of each other,” officials reported. “Only a small pathway was clear through the apartment home.” And “only one exam room in the dental office was operable – boxes and shopping bags crowded the office area and other rooms of the dental office.”
Thirty different storage units rented by the Bodeks were inspected. They were full of women’s clothing and expensive handbags and fur coats; many items from Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, with price tags still attached, were found according to prosecutor Winn.
The ill-gotten goods will be sold trying to restore victims, the prosecutor said. “We are working with a private liquidator to maximize the amount brought in,” Anna Winn said. “All profits will be dispersed to victims in equal shares.”
The Bodeks admitted guilt last week, each pleading guilty to 3 felonies: elder financial abuse and two counts of stealing another’s credit card information to commit fraud. In the deal, 42 other felonies were dismissed.
“The guilty plea is a relief for victims who were betrayed by Doctor Bodek and his wife,” prosecutor Winn said in a statement.
Sentencing is set for July 24, 2013, before Honorable Judge David Berry in San Diego’s North County Courthouse. It is a “stipulated sentence,” meaning agreed upon in advance. “They are each going to get probation and 365 days in jail,” the prosecutor said. Many of the dental-patient-victims are expected to come hear sentencing.
“His license has been suspended,” prosecutor Anna Winn stated. “The dental board will make decisions regarding his licensure.”
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