Following undercover stings by an operative who posed with ill-fitting dentures, Los Angeles City Atty. James Hahn filed criminal charges this week against two dental lab operators accused of practicing without licenses.
The owner of Precision Orthodontic Laboratory, Shaya Hagouel, 52, of Canoga Park, and the owner of Victory Dental Laboratory, Osvaldo Atilio Ostini, 60, of Ontario, were charged on separate complaints filed in Los Angeles Municipal Court.
The investigation of Ostini began when an anonymous informant tipped off the Board of Dental Examiners, Hahn said.
On April 1, a dental board operative went to Victory Dental, 10545 Victory Blvd., wearing a pair of dentures in need of adjustment, said Deputy City Atty. Mark Lambert, the prosecutor in the Consumer Protection Unit who is handling the cases.
Ostini, allegedly using his bare hands, examined the patient and reached a diagnosis. The dentist then took the dentures to a bench and began adjusting them, Lambert said.
Board of Dental Examiners' investigators who were waiting nearby entered the office and identified themselves, Lambert said.
Hagouel came under suspicion when a dental board investigator passing through North Hollywood decided on a surprise visit to the Precision Orthodontic facility at 5344 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Hahn said. Doubting that a licensed dentist worked at the lab, dental examiners decided to send the same investigator with ill-fitting dentures to Hagouel's business.
After examining the operative and diagnosing the problem, Hagouel was about to adjust the dentures by grinding them when investigators entered the office and identified themselves, Lambert said.
Hagouel refused to comment on his case Friday.
Ostini's attorney, Paul Potter, said the dental board went too far and that all his client was doing was fixing dentures, for which he doesn't need a license.
"The behavior of the police leading up to the citation is probably illegal, and the facts don't support their actions," Potter said.
"I think the dental examiners and their undercover police serve a legitimate and valuable role, but their pick of Mr. Ostini as a target was just unjustified."
Hagouel is scheduled for arraignment in Los Angeles Municipal Court on July 8. Ostini's arraignment is scheduled July 15.