“Let us make you smile,” reads promotional copy for the website of County Dental Providers in Marietta, Georgia.
But in her mug shot, the owner of the business isn’t.
Authorities allege that Krista Szewczyk, a Georgia woman who ran County Dental Providers for seven years, posed as a dentist despite not having a license, performing procedures like tooth extractions on unknowing patients while also writing fraudulent prescriptions.
In once instance, a patient who allegedly had two teeth removed by Szewczyk suffered a “tennis-ball-sized” infection that sent him to the hospital, Dick Donovan, the district attorney for the Paulding Judicial Circuit, tells PEOPLE. “We had another guy that says he has to re-glue his crown every morning,” he says.
Szewczyk was arrested last week after a grand jury issued an indictment charging her with 40 counts of practicing dentistry without a license, four counts of forging prescriptions, and four counts of insurance fraud, according to the indictment, which was obtained by PEOPLE.
As more patient complaints have emerged, a second investigation into Szewczyk has been opened in neighboring Cobb County, specifically the city of Marietta, to which Szewczyk relocated and “very quietly” reopened her clinic after shutting down in Paulding County, Marietta Police Officer Chuck McPhilamy tells PEOPLE.
She has not entered a plea to the charges against her in Paulding County, Donovan says. A call by PEOPLE to her attorney, Jimmy Berry, was not immediately returned.
In an interview with Atlanta TV station WGCL, Szewczyk said: “It’s definitely a personal vendetta” by the prosecutor. She added, “Sad situation … and I’m confident it will be handled in a timely manner.”
Donovan says Szewczyk’s husband worked as a deputy sheriff in the Paulding County courthouse.
The investigation into Szewczyk dates to 2013, when the Georgia Board of Dentistry alerted the district attorney’s office to complaints about Szewczyk, who ran a business called County Dental Providers starting in 2011 that contracted with independent licensed dentists to come in and work on patients, Donovan says.
According to the small print on County Dental Providers’ website, it “is solely a business service organization, which means we don’t do dentistry or get involved in the decisions made between dentist and patient. Our affiliated dentists spend most of their time with their patients delivering high-quality patient care, while our highly-trained business professionals manage the business aspects of their practices.”
The problem, Donovan alleges, is that Szewczyk “was doing the dental work when the doctors weren’t there.”
The state board’s 2013 alert prompted a criminal investigation at the time that led to a single charge in Paulding County accusing Szewczyk of performing dental services without a license, the district attorney says. But on the DA’s recommendation, Szewczyk was enrolled in a pretrial diversion program that did not require her to enter a plea, and instead allowed for the charge to be dropped if she successfully completed the program.
“This was the only instance of which we were aware at the time, so we just said, ‘Don’t do this anymore,'” says Donovan. “I got a notice saying she had completed the program about the same time I heard from the Board of Dentistry that she was back at it again.”
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A subsequent re-investigation that unfolded over a year-and-a-half came up with another 18 alleged victims, he said.
Since news of last week’s indictment went public, “we have had about 15 more people come to our office and say, ‘Hey, she did this to me, too,” he says. “We probably will have to re-indict her and see where we go from there.”
The parallel investigation in Marietta is operating on the same terms, asking individuals who may have received dental procedures from Szewczyk at her Cobb County clinic to come forward.
“We received notification from some local residents about a week ago that they believed they may have had the exact same scenario happen to them,” says McPhilamy, the Marietta police spokesman.
“We have to remember that she is innocent until proven guilty,” he says. “This will be a slow, methodical investigation for us as a police department.”
“At this time no charges have been filed in Marietta because the investigation is just beginning,” he adds.
Szewczyk is free on bond, according to Donovan. A call by PEOPLE to County Dental Providers was not answered or immediately returned.