A rogue "dentist" accused of operating an unlicensed and unsanitary bedroom clinic, prompting health officials to urge his patients to get tested for blood-borne illnesses, will serve three months in jail – if he can be found.
Tung Sheng Wu, also known as David Wu, was sentenced in absentia Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court.
Mr. Wu was first caught practising without a license in 2003 and signed a court order agreeing to stop. But the College of Dental Surgeons of B.C. received a tip in April that he was again practising and his Burnaby clinic was raided in May.
His vehicle was seized in August near the Vancouver airport, with dental equipment and his Canadian and Taiwanese passports inside. The college believes he was trying to ship the vehicle to Toronto.
Its lawyer last week told the court Mr. Wu should be found in contempt for violating the 2003 order and asked for a four- to six-month jail term.
The judge issued a three-month sentence and ordered Mr. Wu to pay special costs. The college has spent more than $140,000 on the investigation.
Jerome Marburg, the college's registrar and chief executive officer, said in a conference call after the hearing that he was content with the judge's decision. He said the finding of civil contempt sends a strong message to anyone thinking about practising illegally.
"Since our search and seizure of the illegal dental practice, Mr. Wu has gone into hiding, taking active steps to evade the college and the court. He is a person without honour or regard for Canadian civil society. He has preyed on the vulnerable and put many persons' health at significant risk," he told reporters.
Mr. Marburg said the case will not be closed until Mr. Wu is located, and he urged anyone with information to contact the college's investigators.
"There is no reason to either protect him or hide him," he said of Mr. Wu.
While it's the college's investigators who are actively searching for Mr. Wu, Mr. Marburg said police will be ready to step in if he's found. A Canada-wide arrest warrant was issued in August.
Mr. Marburg said he is not aware of any of Mr. Wu's patients being diagnosed with blood-borne illnesses. Fraser Health has said Mr. Wu put approximately 1,500 people at risk of infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
When asked how many others might be operating illegal dental clinics in B.C., Mr. Marburg said it's difficult to tell, since such businesses are underground and secretive.
He said the college is "looking into some other files," but would not provide further details.
The college previously said it believed Mr. Wu was still in the Lower Mainland due to his family and personal connections.