ROCKY POINT, NY (News 12 Long Island/CNN) - A dental assistant was charged with multiple counts of grand larceny for allegedly stealing jewelry from patients who were sedated, and her family says a drug problem could be behind the alleged thefts.
Police say 38-year-old dental assistant Arieta Gouvakis stole gold jewelry right off the fingers and necks of two patients while they were under nitrous oxide sedation at Long Island Implant and Dentist in Rocky Point, NY.
"We're pretty appalled about what happened,” Dr. Nick Augenbaum said.
Gouvakis was hired about three weeks prior to her arrest. Augenbaum says he had no idea what she was allegedly doing while she was with patients until some of them came forward to report missing items.
Augenbaum called police, who tracked the stolen jewelry to local pawn shops. They were able to recover the items.
Gouvakis was arrested early Friday morning at her cousin’s home. She has been ordered held on a $60,000 bond.
The 38-year-old’s family says they were stunned at the charges but believe she may have had a drug problem.
"She does have prior drug arrests and one conviction, so it’s entirely possible that her motivation was to feed a drug habit,” said Chief Stuart Cameron with the Suffolk Police Department.
Gouvakis’ court-appointed attorney asked the judge for a mental health evaluation.
Augenbaum says he’ll now be increasing security at the office.
"We’ll be even stricter on assistants being in the operatories alone with patients,” he said.
Police say the alleged victims didn’t realize their jewelry was missing until they left the office, in part due to the sedation. They are asking any other patients who believe they may have been victims to come forward.