As if people didn’t already have anxiety about going to the dentist, the recent arrest of a dental assistant in New York may give patients one more thing to worry about. Arieta Gouvakis was arrested on Friday after police say she removed patients’ jewelry while they were moderately sedated for dental procedures.
“This is a particularly disturbing case because medical professionals are given a large amount of trust by their patients, and this individual violated that trust,” Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron said in a news conference, according to Newsday. “Although she was using laughing gas, this is no laughing matter.”
Gouvakis, 38, of Manorville, N.Y., had been working at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry in Rocky Point, N.Y., for only about three weeks, Dr. Nick Augenbaum told News 12. On two separate occasions, Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, female patients went home before realizing their jewelry was missing. They called the dentist’s office to report the missing gold necklace with a religious icon and a wedding band with six diamonds. The office then called the police, who were able to recover the jewelry from a local pawn shop.
Gouvakis was an assistant to one dentist in the office, Dr. Elliot Koschitzki. Cameron said that police were still investigating whether there were any other victims who may not have realized their items were missing. Augenbaum, who is another dentist in the practice, said the office was looking into ways to increase security.
“We’re pretty appalled about what happened,” Augenbaum said.
Family members told News 12 that Gouvakis may have had a drug problem. According to Cameron, she has a prior drug arrest and one conviction.
Gouvakis was charged with multiple counts of grand larceny and is currently in custody at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility, where she is being held on $60,000 bond. She pleaded not guilty at her arraignment on Friday and is due back in court on Monday, Newsday reported.
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