Unlicensed Body Sculpting Business Agrees to Pay $121K

The Orange County and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Offices have reached a civil settlement agreement with Sculptor Body Molding, Inc. and its owners Steven and Monica Ferguson on charges that they engaged in unlawful business practices and false and misleading advertising at their health clinics.

The filing of the civil complaint was the result of an investigation conducted by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation after it was discovered that the defendants were advertising to perform various medical procedures. One of the procedures was called SculptorBody which the company described as a weight-loss “lipo-sculpting” program.

The business advertised that the SculptorBody treatment provided weight loss and body sculpting through the use of various medical devices and cosmetic machines including laser and ultrasound treatments. Customers were asked to pay thousands of dollars for the treatments and were told the program was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and “Members of [the] Medical Board.” Sculptor Body Molding, Inc. operated five clinics in Huntington Park, North Hollywood, Santa Ana, West Covina and Riverside. The company advertised heavily to the Spanish-speaking community.

The Division of Investigation’s Health Quality Investigation Unit, Operation Safe Medicine, conducted undercover appointments at Sculptor Body Molding and investigators were offered medical services including ultrasound weight loss treatments, oxygen injections, and “fat molding.”

These services were offered by staff referred to as “therapists” rather than by a licensed medical doctor or other licensed medical professional as required by law.  None of the weight loss treatments or health advice provided at the business were supervised by a licensed physician and neither of the Fergusons is a licensed health care professional. The civil complaint noted that the advertising and performance of these medical procedures constituted the unlicensed practice of medicine and false and misleading advertising.

As part of the settlement agreement reached on May 19, 2017, the defendants will pay $106,000 in civil penalties that will go into a fund that supports future consumer protection actions by the District Attorney’s Office.  They will also pay $15,000 in restitution to the Medical Board of California for the costs of the investigation conducted by the Division of Investigation.

The settlement includes an injunction which prevents the Fergusons from operating any business in violation of the California Medical Practice Act and from any advertising that includes false or misleading statements to consumers. They are also required to immediately sell or dispose of all ultrasound machines and other medical devices that can only legally be used by or at the direction of a licensed medical professional.


Southern California Physician Sentenced After Pleading Guilty to Drug Trafficking

Former Glendale doctor was charged federally for distributing medications illegally

A federal judge ordered that former physician Manasseh Nwaigwe, of Glendale, will serve one month of home detention and two years of federal probation after pleading guilty to one federal drug trafficking charge.

Nwaigwe, 73, was sentenced on June 1, 2017. As part of the plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office, Nwaigwe pleaded guilty to illegally distributing hydrocodone and had to forfeit more than $97,000 that was earned from issuing illegal prescriptions. Nwaigwe also agreed to surrender his medical license.

During an investigation conducted in May and June 2015, Nwaigwe wrote prescriptions for hydrocodone, clonazepam and promethazine with codeine to five U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration undercover investigators in exchange for cash. The prescriptions were written even though the undercover officers had no medical need for the drugs.

On March 8, 2016, the Medical Board of California filed an accusation against Nwaigwe that included allegations of sexual misconduct, prescribing without an appropriate prior exam and gross negligence.  The plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office resulted in the surrender of Nwaigwe’s medical license on June 1, 2016, which resolved that accusation. Criminal charges were never filed in the case of alleged sexual misconduct.

Investigators from the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation, Health Quality Investigation Unit – Tustin Field Office assisted the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Torrance Police Department and Redondo Beach Police Department with the investigation of Nwaigwe.

A copy of the Medical Board of California documents can be read HERE.

To view the March 2016 Medical Board news release, click HERE.

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


Unlicensed Man Convicted of Acting as an Acupuncturist

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On January 5, 2017, Stephen Rainbolt, owner of the Alphabiotic Center of San Diego, pleaded guilty and was convicted of one misdemeanor count of unlawful use of the title “acupuncturist” and sentenced to three years of probation.  Rainbolt had been scheduled to go to a jury trial on January 26 to face charges of offering to practice acupuncture without a license, unlawful use of the title “acupuncturist,” and false or misleading advertising, all misdemeanors.

The San Diego City Attorney’s Office filed the charges against Rainbolt after an undercover operation found that Rainbolt, a former acupuncturist whose license expired in 2014, had continued to offer acupuncture treatments at his San Diego home.  Rainbolt offered to perform acupuncture on an undercover investigator.

The investigation of Rainbolt was conducted by the Investigation and Enforcement Unit-San Diego Field Office of the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation (DOI) after the California Acupuncture Board received complaints about Rainbolt’s practice.

 

 

 


Chiropractor Arrested for Unlicensed Practice of Medicine

Northern California woman used the designation of “D. PSc.” in her advertisements

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A Northern California chiropractor was arrested January 16, 2017, and charged with practicing medicine without a license.

Diem Thi Nguyen, of El Dorado Hills, is licensed by the State of California as a chiropractor and is not licensed as a medical doctor.  Nguyen advertised in a Sacramento newspaper that she could treat thyroid problems and diabetes and advertised neurological testing of patients.

Nguyen used the designation of “D. PSc.” in her advertisements.  “D.PSc.” is an acronym for Doctor of Pastoral Science, which the Pastoral Medical Association website describes as a “license.”  According to the Medical Board of California, Doctor of Pastoral Science is not recognized in California and does not authorize anyone to practice medicine or any of the healing arts in the state.

Nguyen was investigated by the Sacramento Field Office of the Health Quality Investigation Unit with the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation at the request of the Board of Chiropractic Examiners and the Medical Board of California. Investigators conducted an undercover operation at Nguyen’s clinic where she allegedly diagnosed and treated the undercover operative for an adrenal gland issue, insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances.

Nguyen has offices located in El Dorado and Sacramento counties. Her business is called New Life Integrity Wellness and is located on Golden Foothill Parkway, in El Dorado Hills, and on Laguna Spring Drive, in Elk Grove.

Nguyen’s next court appearance is scheduled for February 27, 2017 in Sacramento Superior Court.


Physician and Nurses Face Felony Charges

Central Valley medical spa staff accused of unlawful practice of medicine.

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A Central Valley physician and three registered nurses have all been charged with felonies for the unlawful practice of medicine.

Physician Mark Nazarian, of Fresno; and registered nurses Jaclynne Burris, of Fresno; Crystal Bartolome, of Clovis; and Elsa Ortiz, of Fresno; were all charged with felonies by the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office following an investigation conducted by the Investigation and Enforcement Unit Central Valley Field Office of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation.

Nazarian, who is the medical director at Mystique Medical Spa and Wellness Center on North Howard Street in Fresno, was charged with one felony count of aiding and abetting the unlawful practice of medicine after undercover operations showed that the registered nurses working there were administering Botox to patients who had not been given an appropriate prior examination by a doctor or nurse practitioner.

The registered nurses were also found to allegedly be illegally selling prescription-only medications including  Latisse and Retin-A.  Burris was charged with three felony counts of unlawful practice of medicine, Bartolome was charged with four felony counts of unlawful practice of medicine and Ortiz was charged with five felony counts of unlawful practice of medicine.  Mystique Medical Spa and Wellness Center is owned by chiropractor Samuel Stephen Krikorian Jr.

Nazarian, Burris, Bartolome and Ortiz will appear in Fresno County Superior Court on December 12, 2016.  The California Board of Registered Nursing and the Medical Board of California will pursue disciplinary action, as appropriate, against the licensees.


Clovis Nurse Charged with Multiple Felony Counts, Including Practicing Medicine Without a License

PrintJennifer Steinbach, a registered nurse from Clovis, will appear in Fresno County Superior Court on December 8, after being charged with 29 felony counts. Charges include 12 counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud, 16 counts of making false statements in prescription records, and one count of practicing medicine without a license.

The charges are the result of an investigation led by the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation, Investigation and Enforcement Unit – Central Valley Field Office.

The investigation found that while employed at a hospital in Fresno, Steinbach allegedly obtained controlled substances including Dilaudid, Diazepam, Morphine, and Hydrocodone illegally.

Steinbach has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The California Board of Registered Nursing will pursue disciplinary action, as appropriate, against Steinbach’s license.


Investigators Honored by US Attorney’s Office

Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation staff participated in joint ‘Operation Fright Night.’

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Eight investigators with the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation Health Quality Enforcement Unit were recently honored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and were presented with the 2016 U.S. Law Enforcement Award.

The investigators were recognized for their work on “Operation Fright Night,” which was a series of joint undercover operations conducted with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Import Operations Branch of the Los Angeles District Office, the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations and the California Department of Public Health.

Operation Fright Night led to the filing of misdemeanor charges against 10 Los Angeles area businesses for selling contact lenses without prescriptions.

Awards were presented to supervising investigators Jeff Gomez and Carmen Aguilera-Marquez and to investigators Jaime Sandoval, Majida Ibrahim, Tracy Tu, Bernard Lim, Caroline Montgomery and Max Degtyar.

The annual awards ceremony recognizes agents, officers and investigators with federal, state and local agencies who worked on U.S. Attorney’s Office cases.

For more information on the case, see the previous blog story here.

 

 


Registered Nurse Faces Sentencing on Felony Count of Insurance Fraud

Deborah Oldham, a Burlingame registered nurse, has pleaded guilty to one count of  insurance fraud and will appear in San Mateo County Superior Court on December 2, 2016 for sentencing. Print

Oldham was originally charged with nine felony counts, including insurance fraud and obtaining controlled substances by fraud.  Her plea was the result of a year-long joint investigation conducted by the Investigation and Enforcement Unit – Hayward Field Office of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation and the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

The investigation showed that while working at Mills-Peninsula Health Services in 2013, Oldham documented administration of fentanyl and midazolam to patients, which resulted in charges to the patients’ insurance providers.

Oldham’s registered nurse license was placed on probation last summer after the California Board of Registered Nursing filed an accusation that Oldham made unintelligible entries pertaining to controlled substances.

The Board’s accusation and order can be viewed here:


Former Registered Nurse Arrested on New Drug Charges

Woman was already in custody for violating probation

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New charges have been filed in Merced County Superior Court against former Registered Nurse Danielle Angelucci, of Hollister, after an investigation revealed that she allegedly stole fentanyl from a Los Banos hospital in 2014.

Angelucci has been charged with one felony count of obtaining controlled substances by fraud and one felony count of making a false statement in a record related to controlled substances.  An arrest warrant was issued for Angelucci, but investigators found that she was already in custody in Santa Clara County, after violating the terms of her criminal probation in that county.

Earlier this year, Angelucci pled guilty to two felony counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud and was placed on probation, after an investigation showed that she stole fentanyl and morphine from a hospital in San Jose in 2013.

The new charges were the result of an investigation conducted by the Investigation and Enforcement Unit – Central Valley Field Office within the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation.

Angelucci surrendered her Registered Nurse license in February 2016.  The Accusation and Order by the Board of Registered Nursing can be read here.


Nurse Charged with Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substances

Redding woman took opioid tablets from hospital.

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Licensed vocational nurse (LVN) Erin Bullock, of Redding, will appear in court on November 8, 2016, after the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office charged her with one felony count of unlawful possession of controlled substances.

The charge came as the result of an investigation conducted by the Investigation and Enforcement Unit Sacramento Field Office of the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation.  The investigation was initiated after the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians received information from Bullock’s employer.

The investigation revealed that while she was employed as a LVN at a hospital in Redding, Bullock removed numerous Norco tablets from the hospital for her own use.

Bullock was previously ordered to serve 45 days in jail for stealing medication from a patient while she was providing in-home care in 2015.  In that case, Bullock pled no contest to petty theft charges.

The Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians has filed an Accusation against Bullock, which can be read here: bullock.