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British Columbia’s ‘basement dentist’ finally behind bars in B.C.

Vancouver-area man Wu Tung Sheng, also known as David Wu, has been put behind bars after practising dentistry without a licence.

The Canadian Press

The phony dentist who put hundreds of patients at risk by running an illegal practice out of his Burnaby basement suite is now behind bars in B.C.

Wu Tung Sheng, 62, appeared in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday before beginning his three-month sentence. He did not have a lawyer.

After bringing in a Mandarin interpreter, Associate Chief Justice Austin Cullen read Mr. Wu, also known as David Wu, the reasons for judgment first announced in October, when he was convicted in absentia for continuing to practise without a licence despite a 2003 court order.

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Mr. Wu, wearing black track pants and a mock turtleneck, nodded as his interpreter explained he had been found guilty of contempt of court. When asked if he had any questions about the process, he said no. He was then led away.

In addition to serving three months behind bars, Mr. Wu must repay "special costs" incurred by the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia during the cost of the investigation. The total figure has not yet been calculated, but college registrar and CEO Jerome Marburg said it will be "well over $150,000."

Outside the courthouse on Friday, Mr. Marburg said the college is satisfied Mr. Wu can no longer do harm to others and hopes the sentence sends a message.

"It should send a message, first of all, to anybody who is contemplating going to see a dentist, or doctor, or anybody, that they check to make sure that person is competent, qualified and safe, and that if there's a problem they have recourse," he said. "Hopefully it [also] sends a message to others out there who wish to try and do things illegally that it doesn't pay."

Mr. Wu had been on the run for more than three months, fleeing after a warrant was issued for his arrest on Aug. 12. He turned himself in to Toronto police on Nov. 16 and was brought back to B.C. by B.C. sheriffs.

The Fraser Health Authority had issued a health alert in August, urging Mr. Wu's estimated 1,500 patients to be tested for blood-borne viruses such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV. More than 450 have been tested so far and none were found to have contracted infections from seeing Mr. Wu, the health authority said.

The college said Mr. Wu might have practised as early as the 1990s, when he is alleged to have operated out of a Port Moody residence. He was first caught in 2002 and told his lawyer that he was contrite about his past violations. In early 2003, he signed a court injunction agreeing to stop practising dentistry unlawfully in B.C.

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Former patients have told The Globe and Mail the man dubbed "the basement dentist" by authorities charged about half what real dentists quoted.

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News reporter

Based in Vancouver, Andrea Woo is a general assignment reporter with a focus on multimedia journalism. More

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