Dentist Gets Two Months In Jail For Treating Patients During Self-Quarantine In Australia

File photo of dental instruments

File photo of dental instruments
Photo: Sean Gallup (Getty Images)

A dentist in Perth, Australia has received two months in jail for treating 41 patients while she was supposed to be in two weeks of mandatory self-quarantine to prevent the spread of covid-19. The judge’s sentence is the harshest covid-related punishment passed down in Australia since the pandemic began earlier this year, with most people receiving fines for infractions.

The dentist, identified by Australia’s ABC News as Natalia Nairn, flew home to the state of Western Australia from the capital city of Canberra back in June. Nairn reportedly left her home on at least seven occasions to visit her dental clinic and saw 41 patients. At least one of those visits occurred after she’d already been visited by police.

Nairn told the judge that she didn’t think she had to self-quarantine because she was “feeling fine,” but the judge, Matthew Walton, called her excuses, “staggeringly naive or at the very least irrelevant.” Nairn eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced today to seven months in prison, with five months of her sentence suspended, according to ABC News.

The state of Western Australia was the first to set up what it calls a “hard border” with Australia’s other states, requiring any residents returning to the state to self-quarantine for two weeks. Non-residents of the state have been completely forbidden from traveling to Western Australia without a special exemption, such as the need to take care of a loved one.

Australia’s other states have followed Western Australia’s lead, setting up checks for interstate travel within Australia, though those restrictions have changed over the past six months based on which part of the country is currently experiencing an outbreak. The strategy has paid off for Australia, which reported just six cases of coronavirus on Sunday and no deaths.

Australia has identified 27,658 cases and 907 deaths since the pandemic began, a relatively low figure compared to the U.S. and Europe. The state of Victoria saw a huge surge in cases this past July and August and the Premier (Australia’s version of a state governor), enacted a strict lockdown to crush the case curve. Australia also took extra financial steps to make sure people could stay home, including a boost for unemployment benefits, three months of free childcare, and wages for those who’ve been furloughed.

There were complaints and protests in Victoria over the past few months, but the lockdowns worked and most of Australia is starting to return to normal life. In Western Australia, which hasn’t seen a case of community infection since May, life looks pretty much exactly as it did before the pandemic struck, with restaurants and businesses open at full capacity, and sporting events hosting thousands of spectators.

The U.S., by contrast, saw 102,588 new cases yesterday, the largest ever recorded on a Sunday, which is typically lower than other days of the week because of how states report

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Hoverboard-riding dentist gets 12 years in jail

a person wearing a hat and glasses: hoverboard dentist

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hoverboard dentist

  • An Alaska dentist that stood on a hoverboard while extracting a patient’s tooth has been sentenced to 12 years in jail.
  • Seth Lookhart also piled up a mountain of other charges and was convicted of embezzlement and other crimes. 
  • Despite his conviction, Lookhart says he hopes to return to his career in the future.

If you weren’t already afraid or at least a little bit uneasy about going to the dentist, you probably will be after reading about 35-year-old Seth Lookhart. Lookhart, who practiced dentistry in Alaska, was perhaps the worst dentist in the country during his time seeing patients. A court decided that he wasn’t just bad at being a dentist, he is also a criminal, and will now serve a dozen years behind bars for his crimes.

Lookhart’s sentence was 20 years with 8 years suspended, and a decade of probation afterward. He is barred from practicing dentistry during this entire time and it’s safe to say that his medical career is likely over. Hopefully.

So, what exactly did Lookhart do to warrant the label of “worst dentist?” Well, for starters he performed a tooth extraction on a sedated patient while he rode a hoverboard in the operating room. He videotaped his stunt and sent it around to friends. He also embezzled money, filed false Medicaid claims and pocketed the cash, and performed anesthesia “thousands of times” despiting having no training or legal clearance to do so.

On top of that, the court learned during a trial in January that patients of Lookhart would often awaken from their operation and realize that the troubled dentist had performed the wrong procedure on them. Sometimes Lookhart would extract the wrong tooth or do something to the patient that hadn’t been agreed upon. Yeah, he’s pretty terrible.

His sentencing isn’t the end of his troubles, however, as he now faces additional charges and demands for restitution from his clients as well as the state of Alaska, which says it will seek $2 million to cover the cash that Lookhart embezzled from the Medicaid system.

Despite all of this, Lookhart says he’s still hopeful that he can return to his dentist career at some point in the future. “Looking back, I can’t say exactly when I began to go off course,” Lookhart said, according to KTUU. “While I do not doubt that I was able to render care and alleviate the pain to many people who were in dire need, I also know that I could have and should have maintained better discipline and focus while serving a patient base I came to love.”

That’s pretty bold considering the list of charges he was just sentenced for. The state is pushing for a permanent ban on his ability to practice dentistry, but that final ruling has not yet come down.


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Cook County Jail guard flunked fitness test, is suing Sheriff Tom Dart for discrimination

A former Cook County Jail guard is suing Sheriff Tom Dart for rejecting her bid to become a courthouse deputy because she flunked a fitness test.

Denise Hobbs, 59, says the test constituted age, sex and race discrimination and that the sheriff required it even though an administrative law judge had ruled otherwise.

Hobbs, who has filed suit against Dart in federal court in Chicago, is seeking unspecified damages and a court order blocking the sheriff from administering the test in the future.

Taking the test in July 2019, she failed two parts of the test: completing a 1.5-mile run in under 16 minutes and 52 seconds and doing 24 situps in a minute.

She apparently was able to pass the third part of the test: bench-pressing more than half of her body weight.

She was given a second chance two days later and was able to do the situps but again failed the running portion.

She said she was ordered to go back to work at the jail but retired a few months later.

Hobbs was among 25 people taking part in a training academy for courthouse deputies, including 15 men and 10 women between 30 and 59 years old. Eight, like Hobbs, were Black women, and three were Black men. Six people were rejected from continuing in the academy, including four Black women, one Black man and one white man.

The lawsuit says the test was biased because the standards were the same for everyone despite lower average abilities of older people and women. African Americans over 40 are less likely than whites to pass the test, according to the lawsuit, which also says the fitness exam doesn’t correlate with the duties of a courthouse deputy.

The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents courthouse deputies, agreed to the fitness test, which was administered between 2014 and 2019.

“The sheriff’s office and the FOP share the desire to ensure that physically fit officers fill the deputy positions in court services,” says Matthew Walberg, a spokesman for the sheriff.

Shortly after Hobbs failed in July 2019, the fitness test was eliminated “for reasons totally unrelated to the merits of the test,” according to Walberg.

The Illinois Labor Relations Board found that the sheriff’s agreement with the FOP was invalid because the union for jail guards — the Teamsters — wasn’t part of the deal.

Walberg says Hobbs and the five other guards who failed the test threatened to sue, that the sheriff offered them courthouse jobs and that Hobbs declined and chose to retire.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
Brian Rich / Sun-Times

More than 2,800 corrections officers and 660 court-services deputies work for the sheriff’s office. About 50 deputies transfer from the jail to courthouses each year, but no one is required to take a physical agility test now, according to Walberg.

The Cook County sheriff’s fitness standards.

The Cook County sheriff’s fitness standards.
U.S. District Court

Hobbs, who started work as a Cook County correctional officer in 2007, retired in September

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Dozens of inmates test positive for virus at San Diego federal jail, defense attorneys say

Petco Park anchors downtown San Diego.
Downtown San Diego. (K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

At least 56 inmates tested positive for the coronavirus last week at a privately run federal jail in downtown San Diego that houses mostly pretrial inmates, according to defense attorneys briefed on the matter.

The GEO Group, which contracts with the U.S. Marshals Service to operate the Western Region Detention Facility, is in the process of testing all inmates there “whether or not they are showing any symptoms,” according to Kathy Nester, executive director of Federal Defenders of San Diego.

“Today we received confirmation of a large number of positive tests arising from that ongoing testing,” Nester wrote in an email Friday.

She said 286 inmates were tested Thursday, and of those, 56 tests came back positive, 114 were negative and 116 were pending.

Another 221 tests were submitted Friday, with all of those results still pending, according to Nester.

She said information about the apparent coronavirus outbreak was provided in a Friday phone call with the Marshals Service, which gives Federal Defenders regular updates “advising us of our clients who have tested positive and when there are ongoing quarantines” at its facilities.

“We are extremely worried about the rate at which the coronavirus is spreading through our detention facilities and the impact that will have on our clients and the community at large,” Nester wrote.

A spokesperson for the GEO Group referred a request for comment to the marshals. Calls to the San Diego-area office of the marshals were not answered Friday.

According to the GEO Group, the Western Region Detention Facility can house up to 770 inmates and is accredited by two national correctional organizations.

In April, Voice of San Diego reported that inmates at the facility reported cramped conditions at the jail that did not allow for social distancing. According to the declaration cited in the report, written by Federal Defenders senior litigator Joshua Jones and signed March 31, inmates at the facility reported several other safety concerns, including a lack of hand sanitizer in housing units and a scarcity of soap.

A study published last month in the Annals of Epidemiology found that “jails are epicenters of COVID-19 transmission in the United States.”

The study’s authors wrote that jails “present an ideal setting for infections to spread” because “incarcerated individuals are at higher risk for infection due to unsanitary living conditions and inability to socially distance.” Additionally, the authors wrote that “correctional officers rarely have public health training, and correctional health systems are chronically underfunded.”

Two of the study’s authors, from Stanford University, said an outbreak inside a jail threatens the community outside because “the people who work there enter and leave every day. They can take the virus out into the community when they go home at night.”

The apparent outbreak at the Western Region Detention Facility follows an outbreak at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, another federal jail in downtown San Diego.

As of Friday, there were three confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates at

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Georgia Lawmakers Seek Jail Reform After Reuters Investigation | Top News

(Reuters) – Georgia lawmakers are pressing for stronger jail oversight after a Reuters investigation identified hundreds of deaths in the state’s county jails and dangerous lapses in inmate medical care.

David Wilkerson, a Georgia state lawmaker who had been planning new jail legislation for the upcoming January session, said he intends to cite Reuters’ findings in his proposed reforms.

As part of an examination of deaths at more than 500 jails nationwide, Reuters found 272 inmate deaths among 13 large Georgia jails over more than a decade. At least half of the deaths were caused by a medical condition or illness, and a quarter by suicide.

The news organization exposed healthcare lapses at the jail in Savannah. Another report explored the 2017 death of Chinedu Efoagui, who died at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center after spending 512 days behind bars without ever being tried on the charges for which he was held.

To read the full investigation, Dying Inside, click https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-jails-deaths

Wilkerson, a Cobb County Democrat, said his proposal will focus on improving mental health care in jails, as well as the disclosure and investigation of in-custody deaths.

“It’s impossible for the jail to investigate themselves. At the end of the day you’re asking someone who did something wrong to look at themselves,” said Wilkerson. “The public trust is not there.”

Wilkerson had begun researching new legislation after the death of Kevil Wingo, a 36-year-old Atlantan who died in the Cobb County jail in 2019. He said he was further moved to propose reforms following the Reuters accounts of Efoagui’s death and others in Georgia jails.

Other state legislators say the spate of jail deaths, particularly involving inmates who had not been convicted of their charges, shows the need for enhanced oversight.

“It is a tragedy. It is malpractice on the part of the state of Georgia, and on the counties,” said Mary Margaret Oliver, a Georgia Democratic lawmaker and former magistrate court judge.

Oliver said substandard mental health care in jails must be tackled when lawmakers convene in January. “Jails are significantly the largest mental health facility in the state,” she said. “And we are not attending to the combination of mental illness, addiction, and significant physical health issues.”

The death of Efoagui, a 38-year-old Nigerian native, highlights such concerns. The software programmer was arrested after suffering a mental breakdown during a traffic stop. As his physical and mental health deteriorated behind bars, he begged for help, but died of a pulmonary embolism.

Many of Efoagui’s friends from Nigeria were unaware of the details of his death after he moved to the United States in 2012 to pursue the American dream. They expressed shock when they learned the full story in the Reuters account.

“Mental illness and the inability to post bond should not cost a life,” tweeted Ogechukwu Eze. “Any life.”

(Reporting by Linda So. Editing by Ronnie Greene)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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