Manuel Carranza, 46, of 483 Grand Blvd., pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in First District Court in Hempstead on several charges, including practicing dentistry without a license. He was ordered held on bail of $2,500 cash or bond.
"He has a price level, a price chart if you would, for the type of services that he provides. It's $20 to $30 for a filling, $50 for a root canal," Det. Lt. Raymond Cote of the Third Precinct Detective Squad said.
"And if that doesn't work, then he'll extract your tooth for free and then he makes the big money from the dentures he'll provide you, and that's upwards of $150 to $300," he said.
Cote said Carranza, who has a sixth-grade education, melted gold jewelry to use as fillings, bought his equipment secondhand at dental trade shows and purchased medications online.
Police also seized two stun guns that Carranza, who ran an all-cash business, kept "in the event his resources were somehow threatened," Cote said.
He said Carranza acknowledged to police he had emigrated to the United States from Honduras illegally 11 years ago. He has no formal medical or dental training, but investigators found some "how-to books" on dentistry in the apartment, Cote said.
He said Carranza was arrested Wednesday after a complaint from a person who feared the suspect might be treating children who were seen entering and leaving the apartment building. There was no evidence Carranza had treated children, Cote said, and detectives had not spoken to any of his patients.
"The man is an entrepreneur. He's providing a service to people that otherwise could not get that sort of treatment," Cote said. "They would have to go to a licensed practitioner and there would be charged additional money but would have safe treatment . . ."Police displayed an array of dental equipment and tools that they seized from Carranza's home and office, but said they recovered no equipment that could have been used to sterilize the tools.