Warrant issued in B.C. for arrest of dentist alleged to be practising illegally

VANCOUVER – A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a man who British Columbia’s College of Dental Surgeons alleges has been working as a dentist for more than 10 years despite not being licensed or qualified.

The college’s lawyer, Brent Olthius, says Tung Sheng Wu did not appear in court Monday, nor did he send a lawyer on his behalf.

The college says it wants Wu apprehended and it has asked the court for the stiffest possible penalty, including the potential for jail time.

“The warrant has been issued and every reasonable step is being made by the college to locate and apprehend Mr. Wu,” Olthius said in an interview.

“We have obtained an order from the court that the warrant be entered on CPIC database,” he added, referring to an electronic database used by police forces across the country, “which will permit the college to bring the resources from the various police services to bear on this as well.”

Wu’s case was in court Monday. Wu was to face allegations he violated an injunction from 2003, when he was ordered to stop practising dentistry.

At the time, Wu was contrite, said Jerome Marburg, registrar of the college. Marburg said Wu said in 2003 that he recognized what he was doing was wrong, promised not to do it again and said he was leaving the country.

Marburg has previously said the college had every indication that’s what would happen.

On Monday, Marburg said in a news release that an internal investigation would examine how the college handled the case a decade ago.

“Without all of the information about what happened in 2003, it would be hard to speculate,” Marburg said in a news release.

“I can only personally speak to how (the college) has handled this matter in 2013. Regardless of what actions the college did or did not take back then, it is unacceptable to the public — and to me as CEO of this organization — that we do not have the answers to these questions immediately at our fingertips.”

This time, a complaint from an unhappy client led the college to investigate Wu once again.

Last week, the Fraser Health Authority said letters were being sent out to clients who may have been exposed to unhygenic conditions while being treated by Wu. The college noted records for 1,500 clients were seized from the man’s home.

On May 29, the RCMP and college investigators entered the house where Wu was believed to be living in Burnaby, B.C., east of Vancouver.

One of the investigators, dentist Alexander Penner, said in court documents that Wu’s living room was set up as a waiting room, with rows of folding chairs. The bedroom was set up to perform operations, Penner said in an affidavit.

The room was “filthy,” according to Penner’s affidavit. The floor and curtains were dirty and dental supplies, equipment and paperwork were scattered around. There was no evidence of any source of sterilized water, and while there was an old sterilizer for equipment, it was unplugged and covered with dust.

The allegations in the court documents have not been proven in court.

Besides the contempt order requested Monday, the college also asked the court for a new injunction.

Marburg noted the college has faced questions about how common illegal dentistry is in the province and whether there is an underground economy for such services.

“Complaints of unauthorized dental practice are rare,” he said in the news release.

“Having said that, it is unlikely that Mr. Wu is the only person practising dentistry illegally in B.C.”

He urged any one aware of someone practising dentistry without qualifications to contact the college.

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