PHOENIX — A Valley dentist exposed by ABC15 for obtaining an state anesthesia permit using fake and fraudulent credentials has pleaded guilty to multiple felony charges.
Dr. Pankaj Goyal 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.
He will be officially sentenced on June 17th.
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. In a statement before ABC15’s broadcast, one of Goyal’s attorneys, Susan McLellan, said allegations about his credentials are “meritless.”
The evidence against Dr. Goyal was clear and obvious, including his alleged residency degree was made using a basic template in Microsoft Word.
Days after ABC15’s investigation, he was arrested by the attorney general’s office and charged with multiple felonies, including forgery and fraud.
But the dental board ignored the same evidence presented by ABC15 for months.
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, didn’t immediately respond to questions for comment about whether Goyal’s dentistry license will be permanently revoked following his guilty pleas. It’s been suspended since November.
As part of his plea deal, Goyal agreed to forfeit his general anesthesia permit.
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at firstname.lastname@example.org .