Clinton Township – A Clinton Township man has been charged with illegally operating a dental practice in his basement and allegedly used his church to get referrals, officials said Friday.

Leka Gjokaj, 55, has been charged with being a health professional operating without a license, a 4-year felony. He was arraigned Friday in 41-B District Court and a magistrate set his bond at $5,000. 

Gjokaj waived the reading of the charge and stood mute.  

Police said he is in the country illegally and has a work visa that expired in 2015. They said federal immigration officials have placed a hold on him, if he should post bond. 

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said in a statement authorities “are thankful that someone had the courage to come forward” and report the man.

A search found a dentist chair, an X-ray machine, molds for teeth and other items at the home on Shulock Drive. Officials said the man told them he was seeing one or two patients a day.

During the arraignment, Gjokaj's attorney criticized the prosecutor for holding a news conference before the case was heard in court Friday.

"It was done to make my client look like some kind of monster who was doing things, operating on his people in his basement and made it look like he didn't know what he was doing," the lawyer said. 

He also told the court his client has no criminal record, is a licensed dentist and entered the country legally.

Associated Press contributed.

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