Editorial: Why All The Fuss?

Last night, Kirk Hawkins of KTLA news interviewed me about the Damian Newhart bank robbery story. As we were talking, we calculated how much money was stolen in the seven robberies that Damian Newhart is accused of – just over $20,000. Now, that’s not a small amount of money. But I got to thinking. The amount of money that he took from his patients far exceeds $20,ooo. How many people have posted on here of fees in the $6,000 range? Quite a few, and I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s just guess at least $100,000. That would be only about 30 patients – and I’ll bet he saw that many in a day.

So, why is it that when seven banks get hit for an average of about $3,000 each, the FBI gets involved and it’s all over the TV news and print media, but when the same guy breaches his trust with literally dozens of individuals, and maybe hundreds, for about the same amount each, individuals who can afford the loss far less than a bank, it hardly causes a ripple in the collective conscious?

Now, I don’t condone bank robbery. But I sure wish that the true victims of Damian Newhart – single moms who scraped and sacrificed to get their kids teeth straightened, kids – and adults, too – who had to repeat a long course of orthodontia due to the shoddy work done by Dr. Newhart, and even Dr. Newhart’s ex-wife and kids – I wish all those victims were being recognized and better yet, reimbursed. I’m sure the banks have insurance for that kind of thing. But where do you get insurance for losses from a crooked dentist?

OC Register Story on Newhart’s Downfall

Orange County Register breaking news reporter Scott Schwebke published an update on the story today, February 3. Significantly, the story hints at the question of just exactly who was employing Damian Newhart, and in what capacity, at the Newhart Orthodontics office in Inglewood where he was arrested.

According to Dental Board of California records, Damian Newhart’s step-father, Scott Newhart, operates two dental offices in Inglewood, under the names Newhart Dental, Inc., and Scott Gould Newhart, DMD, Inc. It is unclear whether Damian worked in one of those offices, whether he was performing dentistry, or whether the patients were aware of the criminal background of the felon by the name of Newhart working there.

Dr. Newhart Slapped on Wrist for Felony

On July 18, 2014, a sentencing hearing was held for Dr. Damien Newhart. In exchange for his guilty plea to one count of Forging or Altering Prescriptions, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail and 5 years probation. This light sentence was handed down despite 44 other counts of the same violation, all of which were dismissed, and his track record of civil violations as measured by the large number of judgments against him. Also despite the fact that at the time of the violations, he was on probation for a Grand Theft conviction.

Clearly, little more than a slap on the wrist to the man who brought so much misery into so many lives. It’s a shame that the community impact of the drug habit which brought him into this courtroom was not recognized during his sentencing.

Update on Martinez v Newhart

The case of Martinez v Newhart was heard today in Small Claims Court, with judgment for the plaintiff. Once again, Dr. Newhart was a no-show. Because of he didn’t appear, the plaintiff essentially had only to show her cancelled check for services to prove her case – but of course, she was also prepared in case Dr. Newhart did show.

Martinez v Newhart

I had a pleasant surprise this afternoon in the form of an email from the plaintiff in Martinez v Newhart. She was finally able to serve Dr. Newhart after numerous failed attempts. In her own words (used by permission):

I was finally able to serve Newhart this morning. We had tried the P.O. Box  and they told us they could not accept it, so we ended up going to his office in Inglewood. Samantha Belhuemer, his office manager from the Laguna Niguel office, accepted the papers.

I was so surprised at the appearance his office building in Inglewood. It was horrible.  They make it look so nice on the website.

We go to  court June 18th.  Can’t wait to get this over with.

By the way, you should make your readers aware that the Laguna Hills court house will be closed effective July 1. Small Claims cases will be heard in Newport Beach and Civil cases in Santa Ana.

The court closure announcement can be found here.

I’m frankly surprised that the person at the UPS Store where Dr. Newhart has his P.O. Box wouldn’t accept service. My immediate thought was that perhaps Dr. Newhart had cancelled the PO Box. But that didn’t make sense given that he has just registered it as the legal address for a new corporation (see previous post). I’m wondering now if the person at the UPS Store didn’t understand his or her legal obligation to accept service for holders of private PO boxes. Here’s a good article from the Sacramento Press speaking precisely to this point. I’ve updated the Small Claims Howto with detailed information that should help if you find it necessary to bludgeon a reluctant mail clerk into submission (or acceptance, in this case!)