Did you know the Department of Consumer Affairs Division of Investigation has field offices and investigators across the state working hard on investigations? Let’s look back at some recent noteworthy cases out of the Sacramento and Chatsworth field offices.
The Case: The Sacramento Field Office and the Unlicensed Practice of Architecture
Latimer Fargo Smith III was the owner of an architectural firm in Berkeley called Fargo Farnesi; however, Smith was not a licensed Architect. He was convicted of four felony counts for False Impersonation, Grand Theft, and Filing False Documents.
Smith impersonated a licensed Architect using an actual licensee’s name and license number to enter into contracts to provide services for a historic Berkeley home. Smith collected more than $100,000 from the homeowners and then failed to complete his contractual obligations to them.
Smith pled no contest to the charges against him in Alameda County Superior Court in September 2014 and was convicted of four felonies in October 2014. A hearing regarding restitution owed to his victims is still pending. This investigation was the result of a consumer complaint made to the California Architects Board.
The Case: The Sacramento Field Office and the Unlicensed Practice of Acupuncture
In January 2015, San Francisco resident Cynthia Chang pled no contest to a misdemeanor count of practicing acupuncture without a license. An undercover investigation in April 2014 showed that Chang had continued to practice acupuncture even though her license had expired in 2008. Chang was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay fines. This investigation was the result of a consumer complaint made to the California Acupuncture Board
The Cases: The Chatsworth Field Office and the Impersonators
Dean Theodore, an Occupational Therapy Assistant, was convicted after an investigation conducted by the Division of Investigation showed that he altered his license to show that he was an Occupational Therapist. Theodore worked as an Occupational Therapist and provided in home services and earned over $172,000. He was charged with six felonies: Grand Theft, Theft by False Presences, Burglary, Forgery, Counterfeiting Seals, and Practicing Medicine Without a License. Theodore pled to one felony count of Practicing Medicine Without a License. This investigation was the result of an employer complaint made to the Board of Occupational Therapy.
Stephanie Hazzard was convicted following an investigation that showed that Hazzard, who does not have a professional license, altered documents in order to impersonate a licensed Associate Clinical Social Worker. She used the fraudulent documents in order to gain employment at a Santa Clarita drug and alcohol counseling center and earned almost $100,000 as a result of her fraud. Hazzard was convicted of three felony counts, for Identity Theft, Grand Theft, and Theft by False Pretenses in Los Angeles County Superior Court. This investigation was the result of an employer complaint made to the Board of Behavioral Sciences.