A Valley dentist exposed by ABC15 for falsifying his anesthesia credentials cried at his sentencing hearing on Monday as he received two years of probation and fines for years-long fraudulent scheme.
Dr. Pankaj Goyal is unlikely to face any jail time unless he violates the terms of his probation.
“I'm here before you as something I never thought I would be in my life, a convicted criminal. It's hard to express the shame I feel for betraying the trust and confidence of the dental profession and my family,” an emotional Goyal told the judge. “I ask the court to believe me today that I didn’t set out to break the law.”
But Goyal, who attended his sentencing with three attorneys, repeatedly worked to defraud the state and cover up the crime for years.
In July 2018, 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 for ABC15’s reports.
He pleaded guilty on May 2nd to three felony charges of criminal possession of a forgery device. But Goyal is unlikely to serve and prison or jail time, records show.
A plea agreement between Goyal and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office shows that he will face two years of probation, 750 hours of community restitution, $30,000 in fees and fine, and will pay up to $2 million for economic losses to his victims or their insurance companies.
The evidence against Dr. Goyal was clear and obvious, including his alleged residency degree which was made using a basic template in Microsoft Word.
Days after ABC15’s original investigation in 2018, he was arrested by the attorney general’s office and charged with multiple felonies, including forgery and fraud.
But the dental board ignored much of the same evidence.
ABC15’s investigation uncovered that the Arizona Board of Dental Examiners' executive director, Elaine Hugunin, received multiple warnings in writing about Goyal’s credentials dating back years. Emails and documents show board officials intentionally looked the other way, silenced staff, and even helped the dentist continue to practice.
Hugunin abruptly retired shortly after ABC15’s report and Goyal’s arrest.
The board’s new director, Ryan Edmonson, said further investigation is underway and that the board will consider action on Goyal’s full dentistry license in the coming months.
Right now, he is indefinitely suspended from practicing.
As part of his plea deal, Goyal agreed to forfeit his general anesthesia permit.
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at firstname.lastname@example.org.