A dental assistant accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of jewelry from two sedated patients at a Rocky Point office was arrested early Friday and charged with larceny and other crimes, authorities said.
Arieta Gouvakis, 38, of Manorville, worked at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry, located at 31 Fairway Dr., police said. Court documents state that she removed the female patients’ jewelry — a religious icon gold-link necklace and a gold wedding band with six diamonds — on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.
Police are investigating if there are other victims, Chief Stuart Cameron said at a news conference Friday in Yaphank. Other patients who were also moderately sedated — meaning they were probably somewhat awake or lightly asleep — during their procedures may not remember or realize that their belongings were missing.
“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,” Cameron said. “Although she was using laughing gas, this is no laughing matter.”
Gouvakis pleaded not guilty during her arraignment Friday at First District Court in Central Islip and is due back in court on Monday, officials said. Bail was set at $30,000 cash or $60,000 bond. She is being represented by the Legal Aid Society and is charged with third-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree grand larceny, third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.
Gouvakis was only hired about three weeks ago, Dr. Nick Augenbaum told News 12 Long Island on Friday.
"We're pretty appalled about what happened," Augenbaum said, adding that his office contacted police after the patients told employees their jewelry was missing.
Augenbaum said the office will increase security.
Authorities are exploring the possibility that the thefts may have fueled a drug habit, Cameron said, noting that Gouvakis has previous drug arrests and one conviction.
Gouvakis allegedly took the jewelry directly off the patients while they were sedated. Cameron did not know if she administered the anesthesia herself or another employee did.
“Neither patient realized their jewelry was missing until after they left the office,” police said in a news release.
The police department's Article Tracking and Recovery Unit recovered the jewelry from local pawnshops. Calls to the dental office were not returned.
Police ask other patients who believe they may be victims to call 631-852-8752.