Authorities arrest dentist exposed by ABC15 for falsifying anesthesia credentials

PHOENIX - A Valley dentist who obtained a state anesthesia permit using fake and fraudulent credentials has been arrested by the Arizona Attorney General's Office following an ABC15 investigation.

Dr. Pankaj Goyal was booked into Maricopa County jail on Thursday afternoon. Witnesses told ABC15 special agents were also at his Glendale dental practice. 

He is facing two felony charges: fraudulent schemes and artifices, and forged written instruments.

RELATED: ABC15 uncovers major questions about Valley dentist's anesthesia credentials

But on July 6, ABC15 revealed that Goyal used a series of fake degrees, forged signatures, and false documents to obtain a 1301 General Anesthesia Permit from the dental board, according to multiple people and organizations. The 1301 permit is the state’s highest level of anesthesia certification and authorizes Goyal to administer general anesthesia or deep sedation by any means.  

Dr. Pankaj Goyal repeatedly refused to answer questions about his anesthesia credentials on the phone and in person. In a statement before ABC15’s broadcast, Goyal’s attorney, Susan McLellan, said allegations about his credentials are “meritless.” 

The Attorney General's Office declined to comment about the arrest and case because the matter is still ongoing. 

The Arizona Dental Board is also facing intense scrutiny because of what ABC15 uncovered. On Monday, Governor Doug Ducey sent a letter to the board’s executive director, Elaine Hugunin. He demanded to know how the board failed to properly vet Goyal’s credentials and for information related to any complaints filed against Goyal. “The information and potential risk to his patients and the public over several years is alarming,” Ducey wrote. 

ABC15 reported that Hugunin directly received multiple warnings from multiple people about Goyal’s credentials beginning in 2014. But she declined to provide information and documentation about what happened with those warnings and declined to answer questions about their vetting of Goyal.

In response to the Governor’s letter, Hugunin scheduled an emergency meeting for July 16 to address issues with Goyal’s credentials and said the board is taking the issue seriously.

However, on June 1, a reporter addressed the full dental board at a public meeting and revealed what ABC15 has discovered. Board members directed staff to look into the issue and discuss it at the next public meeting in August. No official action was taken.

ABC15 also first contacted Hugunin with concerns about Goyal’s credentials in mid-April. In an email, she declined to answer any questions and didn’t respond to a subsequent request for an interview.

[Editor’s note and disclosure: Due to the significant public safety concern, ABC15 notified the Arizona Attorney General’s Office about Goyal’s credentials before its initial report. The decision to notify authorities was made after: (1) Journalists verified several of Goyal’s anesthesia credentials were fake; and (2) Goyal declined to provide any clarification or explanation about those credentials.]

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dave@abc15.com.

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