The dentist who extracted $50,000 of taxpayer money for
made-up appointments that included tooth-pulling has escaped
a jail sentence.
Sanjay Govind Sathe will spend the next eight months on home
detention at his home in Hillcrest, Auckland, after being
sentenced at the Manukau District Court for 18 criminal
charges, including false accounting and dishonestly using a
A Ministry of Health investigation found 172 claims over four
years for emergency treatment of children and teenagers -
including the extraction of teeth - that did not occur.
Court documents show the total amount Sathe fraudulently
obtained was $49,274, which he has since repaid. He paid a
further $45,000 in civil liabilities which included a
contribution to the cost of the investigation.
Sathe was contracted to the Counties Manukau District Health
Board to provide after-hours emergency treatment for children
The free scheme contracts 734 dental providers throughout New
Zealand. They treated about 188,000 adolescents last year at
a cost of $42 million.
Under the agreement, Sathe would provide treatment, then
submit invoices to claim tax-funded payments. The national
average number of "emergency consultations" was between 29
and 38 a year. Sathe made between 352 and 679 claims each
year - the most of any dentist in the country.
The 59-year-old sat in the dock today, cradling his arm which
was heavily bandaged.
Judge Gerard Winter read from a victim impact statement from
the health board that said the system relies on the honesty
of health professionals and Sathe's offending was a breach of
The board said Sathe had damaged its reputation and undone
years of work to build up trust.
"Dr Sathe's offending has left a mess."
Authorities said they were still tracking down the parents of
some children Sathe claimed to have worked on and the whole
exercise has been a waste of resources.
Judge Winter said some of Sathe's records showed multiple
extractions when none were carried out.
"Yes there has been money lost but by far, in a way, the
greatest loss is the damage you've done to your profession
and the children in our community."
Sathe's lawyer Harry Waalkens QC reminded the court that his
client had repaid the lost money and made a contribution to
the investigation cost.
He said Sathe had suffered a "fall from grace" and was sorry
for what he had done. He said his client had health issues
and had just undergone surgery for osteoporosis.
Mr Waalkens also said there was no evidence of "actual harm"
In sentencing, Judge Winter said he found Sathe's offending
included a degree of premeditation.
He started his sentencing with a two-year prison sentence but
gave Sathe credit for his early guilty plea, previous good
record, reparation payments and age.
The Ministry of Health was not immediately available for
Sanjay Govind Sathe
- 59-year-old Auckland dentist
- Pleaded guilty to 10 counts of dishonest use of a document
and eight of false accounting
- Paid $49,274 in reparation to Counties Manukau DHB for the
- Paid a further $45,000 in civil costs, including
- Previously repaid $29,455 after a 2009 audit
- TOTAL: $123,729.
- - additional reporting, Jared Savage