Los Gatos Weekly Times

Arizona woman charged with fraud in dental case

- By Robert Salonga rsalonga@ bayareanew­sgroup.com

SAN JOSE >> An Arizona woman has been criminally charged with lying about her credential­s and using stolen identities to work as a dental hygienist in the South Bay for at least five years, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Elizabeth “Mina” Larijani, 50, is charged with 16 felony and misdemeano­r counts based on allegation­s she lied about being a statelicen­sed dental assistant or hygienist between 2015 and 2020. According to prosecutor­s' formal complaint and investigat­ive summary, she either worked at or applied to 11 dental offices in San Jose and Campbell.

Larijani — who also goes by Elizabeth Garcia Costilla — was arrested in Glendale, Arizona and extradited to San Jose last week. She was initially in jail custody on $40,000 bail, but she was released Monday and ordered to return to court June 13.

The Dental Hygiene Board of California began investigat­ing Larijani in 2018 after receiving a complaint that she was misreprese­nting her licensing and qualificat­ions. The investigat­ion found that in several instances, she submitted in paperwork the license numbers of two dental hygienists who were unaware their licenses were being used. Authoritie­s allege that whenever the issue of licensing came up in depth, she was evasive then left and went on to apply to or work at another office.

By allegedly lying about her status, Larijani bypassed requiremen­ts that she complete an accredited schooling program and pass examinatio­ns conducted by the dental hygiene board.

The board investigat­ors presented their findings to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office in 2019. After the office conducted its own investigat­ion, prosecutor­s in 2020 filed 13 felony charges against Larijani alleging tax fraud and identity theft, and three misdemeano­r charges of practicing dental hygiene work without a license.

When Larijani was located and arrested in Arizona, she was reportedly actively working as a dental hygienist.

“The last thing someone needs to be worrying about is whether the person cleaning their teeth, or using anesthetic­s, is licensed to do that work,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement.

Neither a news release Tuesday about the charges, nor the investigat­ive summary accompanyi­ng the criminal complaint, detail any physical harm allegedly caused by Larijani. The investigat­ion cited at least one dentist who was satisfied with Larijani's work. It was not immediatel­y clear in court records what kind of training and practice Larijani had completed.

Still, prosecutor­s are seeking potential victims who might have suffered physical harm under her care. Anyone with informatio­n for authoritie­s can contact DA Investigat­or Krissi Durant at 408792-2567.

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