An unlicensed dentist is accused of treating patients by falsely using the name and license number of a New Jersey dentist who died.

Roben Brookhim (Photo: NJ Office of Attorney General)

Attorney General Jeff Chiesa and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs joined Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow and the New Providence Police Department to announce the arrest of Roben Brookhim of Short Hills.

Brookhim was taken into custody October 2 at Associated Dental in New Providence, where he allegedly practiced dentistry under the assumed name and license number of Dr. John Kirkland, Jr., who died in October 2011. Authorities say he used Kirkland's name at the New Providence office, at Associated Dental offices in West Orange and Springfield and at a Family Dental Center office in West New York. Kirkland was registered to practice dentistry at all four offices before he died.

The relationship between Brookhim and Kirkland, along with the owners of the dental offices is under investigation. Kirkland died of natural causes; foul play is not suspected in his death. Although Kirkland is deceased, his license to practice dentistry in New Jersey is officially active, with an expiration date next year. Kirkland's license was last renewed on October 14, 2011, a day before he died.

"This is someone who no longer had a license to practice dentistry who was using the license of a deceased dentist who had renewed his license the day before he died," said State Attorney General Jeff Chiesa. "It was an active license and he was using it illegally and putting patients at risk. Individuals who practice dentistry, medicine or any other healthcare profession without a license, or after their license has been revoked, create a significant danger to the health and safety of those who rely on them for help."

Brookhim, a formerly licensed dentist, is charged with the third-degree crimes of unlicensed practice of dentistry and identity theft along with the second-degree crime of healthcare claims fraud.

The New Jersey State Board of Dentistry temporarily suspended his license in August 1999, following a complaint by the State alleging multiple counts of insurance claims fraud and patient record violations. Brookhim's license was permanently revoked in December 2004, following allegations that, while suspended, he performed dental treatment and submitted billings to insurance companies under a different name. His license is still revoked.

"When you're going into any kind of dental or medical procedure, sometimes you have anxieties like anybody would. One of them should not be whether that person is licensed to practice," said Chiesa. "When people go to anyone that we license, they need to know that those people are the kinds of people that they can trust and the kinds of people the state has seen fit to license to practice here."

Consumers who believe they've been scammed by a business can file a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 or 973-504-6200.