Phony Therapist Arrested on Two Outstanding Warrants

Dedrick Dwanu Weathersby of Vallejo was arrested on June 14, 2018, by investigators with the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation (DOI).

Weathersby had two outstanding arrest warrants issued out of Santa Clara County and was charged with eight felonies and one misdemeanor related to his unlicensed practice as a therapist.

An investigation conducted by DOI’s Investigation and Enforcement Unit (IEU) Sacramento Field Office found that Weathersby, who has no professional license, allegedly used a counterfeit marriage and family therapist (LMFT) license to obtain employment in Santa Clara County in 2017.  Investigators found that Weathersby had previously obtained employment as a behavior consultant in San Mateo County from 2016 to 2017.

As part of his fraud, Weathersby allegedly used the name and license number of a LMFT to misrepresent that he was supervised by that LMFT.  He also allegedly produced a falsified diploma and transcript from one university and a falsified diploma from a second university.  Investigators found that Weathersby earned over $55,000 from his alleged fraud.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office charged Weathersby with six felony counts of identity theft, two felony counts of grand theft and one misdemeanor count of practicing as a clinical therapist without a license.

On April 20, 2018, the state Board of Behavioral Sciences issued Weathersby a citation and $5,000 fine for unlicensed activity.

Weathersby was arrested by investigators from IEU and booked into Solano County Jail without incident.  He is scheduled to appear in court on July 12, 2018.

 


San Francisco Bay Area Couple Charged with Practicing Medicine Without a License

Santa Clara husband and wife offered laser hair removal and laser skin rejuvenation

Todd and Kathleen Bragg of Santa Clara were arrested June 19, 2018, by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation (DOI). Todd Bragg, a chiropractor, and his wife, Kathleen, were each charged with one felony count of practicing medicine without a license and one misdemeanor count of advertising to practice medicine without a license. Todd Bragg was also charged with a felony count of aiding and abetting the practice of medicine without a license.

The arrest warrant was issued on June 19, 2018, by a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge.

The Braggs were investigated after DOI learned they owned and operated a business called “A Youthful Reflection” on Forest Avenue in San Jose that offered laser hair removal and skin rejuvenation. The Braggs hired registered nurses to perform the laser treatments and allegedly told the nurses that they could perform the laser treatments under the chiropractic license of Todd Bragg. Kathleen Bragg does not have any professional license. There was no physician associated with the business and no physician oversaw the laser treatments.

In California, laser hair removal can be legally performed by a physician, or by a physician’s assistant or registered nurse that is working under the supervision of a physician.  Unlicensed persons may not legally perform laser hair removal.

DOI investigated the nurses for performing the laser treatments without proper supervision by a physician and then investigated the Braggs for their alleged continued practice of advertising and performing laser hair removal and skin rejuvenation. The investigation included an undercover operation during which Kathleen Bragg allegedly offered to perform laser hair removal.

The investigation was conducted by DOI’s Investigation and Enforcement Unit (IEU) – Hayward Field Office and Enforcement Support Unit.  DOI’s Health Quality Investigation Unit (HQIU) and the San Jose Police Department assisted IEU in the arrest.

The Braggs are being prosecuted by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit. The Board of Chiropractic Examiners has been notified of Todd Bragg’s arrest.

The Board of Registered Nursing has filed accusations against the nurses that worked for the Braggs, which can be read here:

ACCUSATION – TANYA MICHELLE COOK-RILEY

ACCUSATION – DIXIE LEIGH HERNANDEZ

ACCUSATION – ERIKA CRISTINA MACIAS

ACCUSATION – CHAU NGOC VU

 

 

 

 

 


Orangevale Woman Facing Grand Theft Charge for Unlicensed Work as a Speech-Language Pathologist

Former speech-language pathologist Sandra Abolins Starch, of Orangevale, was in Sacramento Superior Court on May 23, 2018, facing a felony charge of grand theft. Starch was arrested in January.

The charge stems from an investigation conducted by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Investigation (DOI) – Sacramento Field Office. DOI investigated Starch in 2017 after her employer conducted an online license verification and found that her speech-language pathologist license had been revoked since November 2014. The employer contacted the California Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board to verify whether the renewed license Starch had provided to them was fake. The board then alerted DOI to the potential fraud.

DOI investigators found that Starch allegedly continued to work as a full-time speech-language pathologist at a rehabilitation facility in Elk Grove following the revocation of her license. Payroll records showed that from January 2015 to January 2016, Starch earned over $88,000 from her alleged fraud.

Starch is being prosecuted by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit.  Her next court appearance is scheduled for July 17, 2018.

 


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


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.

 

 


Physical Therapist and Son Charged with Insurance Fraud

San Francisco Bay Area pair also charged with grand theft and practicing medicine without a license

A licensed physical therapist and her son, who holds no license, have been charged with felonies after allegedly receiving $4.5 million from insurance companies for false claims.

Paula Skinner, of Glen Ellen, and her son Matthew Skinner, of Pleasanton, have each been charged with 34 felony counts related to crimes that allegedly occurred at their South San Francisco businesses, Pacific Occupational Health Clinic and Action Therapeutics.

The pair will appear in San Mateo County Superior Court on September 29, 2017, to set a date for their upcoming preliminary hearing.

The Skinners have each been charged with 10 counts of preparing and filing false insurance claims, 10 counts of conspiring to make fraudulent insurance claims, 10 counts of grand theft, and four counts of practicing medicine without a license. Most of the charges include enhancements because the crimes were aggravated white collar crimes with excessive losses.

The criminal complaint filed by the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office alleges that between 2010 and 2017 the Skinners committed crimes against Liberty Mutual, Traveler’s Insurance, Hartford Insurance, State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) and Intercare Insurance.

Since their arrests, more insurance carriers have come forward to report additional losses. It is alleged that the Skinners billed over $15 million and received payments of over $4.5 million.

The investigation found that the Skinners co-owned and operated Pacific Occupational Health Clinic as a medical corporation. Medical corporations must be majority-owned by physicians and laypersons cannot have any ownership.

The Skinners allegedly hired physicians to act as the medical directors of Pacific Occupational Health Clinic, but the Skinners continued to run the business, including hiring and firing the medical staff and making medical decisions for patients. Pacific Occupational Health Clinic specialized in treating injured workers and billing worker’s compensation health plans.

The Skinners also allegedly referred patients to their other business, Action Therapeutics, for unnecessary physical therapy and chiropractic care.

The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, with assistance from the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation (DOI), and the FBI.  Investigators from DOI’s Investigation and Enforcement Unit, DOI’s Enforcement Support Unit, DOI’s Health Quality Investigation Unit and Operation Safe Medicine worked with San Mateo County District Attorney inspectors over the course of several months.

Paula Skinner’s physical therapy license is currently inactive. The Physical Therapy Board of California is reviewing the case and will take disciplinary action against her license as appropriate.

Any insurance company that believes it was a victim of the Skinners is asked to contact San Mateo County District Attorney Inspector Steve Sysum at (650) 877-5446.

 


Clovis Vocational Nurse Arrested and Charged with Theft from an Elder Adult

Licensed vocational nurse Michael Anthony Larkins, of Clovis, was arrested June 9, 2017, on one felony charge of theft from an elder adult.

Larkins’ alleged crime was discovered when a credit card company reported suspicious credit card activity to the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Investigation (DOI).

Investigators from the Division’s Investigation and Enforcement Unit, Central Valley Field Office, learned that Larkins used a credit card belonging to a 92 year old patient who lived at the acute care center where Larkins worked.

Larkins is believed to have used the credit card to withdraw money from ATMs 11 times over a six day period in October 2016 and to make online purchases four times in the following two weeks, resulting in over $3,000 of fraudulent charges.

DOI investigators obtained surveillance video showing Larkins using some of the ATMs where the money was withdrawn.

The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office charged Larkin with one felony charge of theft from an elder adult.

DOI investigators booked Larkins into Fresno County Jail without incident and he was arraigned on June 23, 2017, when he pleaded not guilty to the charge.  His next court date is scheduled for July 28, 2017.

The Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians have completed a review of the case and are pursuing disciplinary action against Larkins’ license.