Case Update: Chiropractor Sentenced After Claiming to be a Physician

Chiropractor James Joseph Martin of West Sacramento appeared in Sacramento Superior Court on May 29, 2018, and was sentenced to one year in jail and five years of probation. In February, he pleaded no contest to three felony counts of practicing medicine without a license, four felony counts of grand theft, and two misdemeanor counts of using the titles “Dr.” and “physician.”

As part of his sentencing, Martin was ordered not to portray himself as someone who practices functional or pastoral medicine and he was ordered to surrender his chiropractic license. The Board of Chiropractic Examiners will work with the California Attorney General’s Office to process the surrender of Martin’s license. Martin was also ordered to pay $67,934 in restitution to his victims.

Martin operated a business called “Dr. James Martin, D.PSc.” and appeared on Sacramento morning news shows telling patients that he was a “thyroid and diabetic specialist” and that he practiced “functional neurology and metabolic medicine.” The designation “D.PSc.” is not a legal term for a licensed doctor of chiropractic or medical doctor, but stands for “doctor of pastoral science,” a designation issued by the Pastoral Medical Association of Texas, which claims to license “spiritually minded health professionals.”

Many of Martin’s patients thought he was a medical doctor and some of them paid thousands of dollars for his treatments. Martin used titles such as “Head Physician” and “Lic. MD (P)” to misrepresent himself as a physician. At the sentencing, five of Martin’s victims made statements to the court.

The Medical Board of California and Board of Chiropractic Examiners requested an investigation of Martin after receiving a consumer complaint alleging that he was practicing medicine without a license. During the investigation, additional patient complaints about Martin were submitted to the boards and to the Better Business Bureau.

Martin was originally charged with eight felony counts of grand theft and one felony count of practicing medicine without a license. The charges were later amended to include 45 felonies and 13 misdemeanors.

The case was investigated by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation’s Health Quality Investigation Unit – Sacramento Field Office and prosecuted by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. Martin was taken into custody and is currently at the Sacramento County Jail.

 

Read the original story here.

Read the district attorney’s press release here.


Former Engineer Pleads to Felony for Filing False Documents

Former engineer Adebowale Sodipo pleaded no contest in April to one charge of filing false documents with a public office. Sodipo initially faced four felony counts and his trial had been set to begin on May 21, 2018, in San Mateo County Superior Court. Sodipo owned Carona Engineers in San Ramon.

Department of Consumer Affairs’ Investigation and Enforcement Unit (IEU) led an investigation into Sodipo on behalf of the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists after he was alleged to have continued working as a civil and structural engineer during time periods that his licenses were not valid due to nonpayment of the renewal fees.

The investigation by IEU’s Hayward Field Office found that from June 2013 to February 2015 and from June 2015 to December 2015, Sodipo’s civil and structural engineer licenses were expired for nonpayment of state licensing renewal fees. During those time periods, Sodipo allegedly submitted one set of building plans to the City of South San Francisco and three sets of plans to the City of Belmont, which all included engineering stamps that had been altered to indicate that his licenses had been renewed.

Sodipo’s civil and structural engineer licenses were revoked effective April 11, 2018. The Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists filed accusations against Sodipo alleging breach of contract and practicing engineering without authorization in relation to the events in South San Francisco and Belmont, as well as for breach of contract in relation to the events in Hayward, San Pablo and Oakland.

The investigation also found that Sodipo had accepted money and entered into contracts on three other engineering projects in Hayward, San Pablo and Oakland, but failed to complete the projects or to produce usable drawings.

The revocation order and accusation can be read here: http://www.bpelsg.ca.gov/public/s–3860_dec1147.pdf


Chico Registered Nurse Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

Registered nurse Allison Joann Guster, of Chico, was sentenced last week to two years in state prison after pleading no contest to one felony count of causing abuse likely to result in the death of an elderly patient.

Guster was ordered to turn herself into the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on May 14, 2018, and was also ordered to pay over $11,000 in restitution to the victim’s family. Her license to practice as a registered nurse had been restricted by the California Board of Registered Nursing during the duration of her criminal case.

Guster was a night-shift nurse, assigned to care for a patient recovering from surgery. After the patient was found dead in her room early the next morning, Guster made false entries in the patient’s medical record to indicate that she had been monitoring the patient throughout the night. Video surveillance showed that Guster had not been in the patient’s room for over six hours.

The case was investigated by the Investigation and Enforcement Unit – Sacramento Field Office of the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation and prosecuted by the Butte County District Attorney’s Office.

In 2017, the Board of Registered Nursing obtained a court order forbidding Guster from practicing any duties of a registered nurse and will now review the case to determine appropriate disciplinary action against her license.

Click HERE to view the original blog post.

Click  HERE to view the court order prohibiting practice as a registered nurse.



Carmichael Woman Arrested for Grand Theft and Embezzlement

 

 

 

 

 

Lee Marie Brown, of Carmichael, was arrested March 15, 2018, by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Investigation (DOI) – Sacramento Field Office.  Brown has been charged with three felonies including grand theft, embezzlement by a trustee and embezzlement or theft from an elder or dependent adult.

The arrest warrant was issued by a Sacramento County Superior Court judge.

Brown was investigated after DCA’s Board of Behavioral Sciences learned that she was acting as a therapist and working with vulnerable clients, including the elderly.  Investigators with DOI’s Investigation and Enforcement Unit (IEU) learned that Brown was also allegedly advertising as a “psychotherapist” and a “MFCC” (marriage, family, and child counselor). Brown, who was formerly a marriage and family therapist intern, has not held any professional license since 2001.

In 2013, the board issued a $5,000 citation and Order of Abatement to Brown.  She was ordered to cease and desist from providing psychotherapeutic services without a license.

Following the Order of Abatement, Brown allegedly continued to provide therapy services to multiple individuals.  She also became the trustee of a special needs trust account whose beneficiaries were dependent adults.  Investigators served multiple search warrants and found that Brown had allegedly used thousands of dollars in funds from the trust to make personal purchases and billed the trust thousands of dollars for therapy services that she was not licensed to provide.

Brown is being prosecuted by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Special Investigations and Public Integrity Unit.

Brown was arraigned on March 19, 2018.  She is scheduled to be back in court on May 22, 2018.


Fresno Area Doctor Charged in Illegal Botox Parties, Nurse Pleads No Contest

A Fresno physician accused of participating in illegal Botox parties was in court on March 20, 2018, and a registered nurse (RN) has pleaded no contest in the case.
The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office charged Dr. Robert Adams Graham with one felony count of aiding or abetting the unlicensed practice of medicine, while RN Rebekah Suzanne Demoss, of Kingsburg, recently pleaded no contest to dispensing and furnishing dangerous drugs and was sentenced to 180 days in jail.
An investigation conducted by the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation – Investigation and Enforcement Unit (IEU) Central Valley Field Office determined that Graham teamed up with Demoss, who owned ZLB Rejuvenation on Draper Street in Kingsburg, and he allegedly allowed her to use his name to order prescription drugs.
Undercover operations found that Demoss traveled to homes and day spas to host Botox parties and spa nights. During these events, Demoss injected patients with Botox and Juvederm and offered to sell them Latisse.  These products are prescription medications and must be purchased by a physician. Patients must be examined by a physician or a nurse practitioner before receiving these drugs.
The investigation found that Graham did not perform any examinations of the patients that Demoss injected and he did not review any patient medical records related to the cosmetic treatments. Graham was also not aware of when, what or how much medication Demoss ordered, or where she ordered it.
If convicted, Graham faces a sentence of up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 under Business and Professions Code 2052(a).
The Medical Board of California has filed an accusation against Graham, which can be read HERE.
The Board of Registered Nursing has filed an accusation against Demoss, which can be read HERE.

 


Illegal Buttocks Enhancement Procedure Lands Woman in Prison

 

A Monterey Park woman has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for injecting a woman with an unknown substance that was smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico.

Ana Bertha Diaz Hernandez, 47, who is not a physician and did not have any professional licenses in the U.S., was sentenced by a federal judge on March 5, 2018, after pleading guilty to one count of receiving and administering an adulterated and misbranded liquid substance and admitting that she injected the liquid substance into the victim during a body contouring procedure that included buttocks enhancement. As part of the plea agreement, Diaz Hernandez will also pay a $95,000 fine and $30,000 restitution to her victim.

The conviction was the result of a joint investigation conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Office of Criminal Investigations, and Operation Safe Medicine, part of the Health Quality Investigation Unit (HQIU) within the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation.

In December 2016, the Medical Board of California received a complaint alleging that Diaz Hernandez had injected a victim with an unknown substance during an enhancement procedure.  HQIU investigators learned the procedure involved a series of treatments at Diaz Hernandez’s home.  During the contouring process, Diaz Hernandez claimed to be a doctor and mislead the victim about the safety of the injections.

Following the procedure, the unknown substance migrated into the victim’s back, hips and legs and she underwent surgery to remove the foreign substance from her body. She was eventually hospitalized due to infections and complications from the procedure and received skin grafts to repair the damage.

HQIU investigators alerted the FDA and HQIU and FDA investigators teamed up to inspect trash from Diaz Hernandez’s home, where they found bottles of Spanish-labeled medical products and empty syringe packaging. Investigators then conducted surveillance on Diaz Hernandez’s home and served a search warrant.

Drugs and medical devices are considered adulterated when they are used for a purpose other than the use they have been approved or cleared for marketing by the FDA. Drugs and medical devices are considered misbranded when their labeling does not have adequate directions and warnings for use under U.S. law or when prescription drugs are dispensed without a written or oral prescription by a licensed medical practitioner.

Diaz Hernandez was arrested in June 2017 and reached a plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office in July 2017.

The United States Attorney’s Office news releases can be read HERE.

 


Former Granite Bay Physician Sentenced on Federal Drug Charges

Former Granite Bay physician Nicholas J. Capos Jr. was sentenced last week by a federal judge to 52 months in prison for selling controlled substance prescriptions and will forfeit $90,000 earned from his illicit activities. Capos had already surrendered his medical license in 2016.

In May 2016, Capos pleaded guilty to five counts of illegal distribution and dispensation of oxycodone. In his plea agreement, Capos admitted to intentionally prescribing controlled substances outside of the usual course of medical practice and without legitimate medical purpose. He also admitted that he accepted payments on a per-prescription basis and that he would write prescriptions based on patients’ requests.

The sentence and license surrender were the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Health Quality Investigation Unit – Sacramento Field Office of the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation (formerly the Sacramento District Office of the Medical Board of California), the California Department of Justice (DOJ), and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The investigation was initiated by the Medical Board in August 2010. In 2012, Medical Board investigators conducted multiple undercover appointments with Capos. That same year, Medical Board investigators teamed up with the DEA and DOJ and served search warrants on Capos’ home in Granite Bay and his businesses in Yuba City and Grass Valley.

The investigation focused on prescriptions written by Capos between 2008 and 2012. Investigators reviewed prescriptions from over 70 pharmacies and numerous patient records. Pharmacy records showed that Capos prescribed 2,640 hydrocodone pills to one patient over a 28-day period. He also prescribed 2,100 oxycodone pills to another patient over a 50-day period.

During the undercover appointments, investigators learned that Capos charged patients a “DEA Fee” of $100 per prescription.  The undercover investigator was able to request prescriptions from Capos for Vicodin, Ambien, Percocet, oxycodone, and promethazine with codeine.  At one point, Capos warned the undercover investigator to “stay under the radar.”

In 2013, the Medical Board filed an accusation against Capos, alleging 39 instances of gross negligence, prescribing without an appropriate prior examination, excessive prescribing, inaccurate medical records and repeated negligence in his care of 10 patients and an undercover Medical Board investigator.

The Medical Board Accusation can be viewed here.

The United States Attorney’s Office press release can be read here.


Investigation Uncovers Unlicensed Individuals Operating a Medical Spa

Orange County pair posed as Registered Nurses and offered laser treatments

Snezhana Semenov, of Dana Point, and Matthew Tinnes, of Laguna Niguel, will appear in Orange County Superior Court on December 13, 2017, in an ongoing case where they face felony charges of receiving stolen property and practicing medicine without a license.

Investigators from Operation Safe Medicine in the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation’s Health Quality Investigation Unit, worked with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department after a medical device was stolen from another medical spa and traced to New Way Beauty in Laguna Niguel.

Semenov owned and operated New Way Beauty in Laguna Niguel, where Tinnes was employed.

Investigators conducted undercover operations and found that Semenov and Tinnes allegedly represented themselves as Registered Nurses and offered to perform laser treatments for hair removal and melasma, a skin discoloration.

Neither Semenov nor Tinnes have professional health care licenses.  Semenov and Tinnes were arrested in May and the charges were filed in July.  Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.  Their preliminary hearing is scheduled to begin in January 2018.


Now Playing: The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation (D.O.I) Video

The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Investigation (DOI) serves as the law enforcement arm of DCA.

DOI protects California consumers and licensees by investigating violations of California’s law, regulations and professional standards.

Established in 1961, DOI provides law enforcement investigative services that focus on consumer protection for the boards, bureaus, programs, committees, and commissions within DCA.  

DOI is unique from other law enforcement units because of the type of work assigned and how that work is executed.  Additionally, DOI appreciates what is most important to their employees and promotes a healthy work-life balance that does not include rotating assignments and rarely includes evenings or weekends.

Additional advantages of becoming a DOI investigator include:

  • A state vehicle for on-duty use
  • Specialized training and assignments
  • Peace officer safety retirement and access to 401(k) and 457 retirement plans
  • A competitive salary and longevity pay
  • Paid holidays, vacation and sick leave
  • Education incentive and career advancement
  • Comprehensive benefits

DOI is actively recruiting for positions throughout the state.

For individuals at the beginning or middle portion of the career ladder, including those considering a second career, DOI may be the right fit for you.

To learn more about DOI, watch the following video or visit their blog site at dca-division-of-investigation.blog.