Physical Therapist Assistant Charged After Allegedly Falsifying His Timekeeping

Physical therapist assistant Arthur Oppus of Rodeo appeared in court June 14, 2017, in Contra Costa County Superior Court to set a date for his preliminary hearing after being charged with one felony count of grand theft and one felony count of obtaining money by false pretenses.

For approximately two years, Oppus had overlapping employment at two healthcare centers in San Pablo. One of his employers decided to do an investigation after learning that Oppus had allegedly been clocked in at two separate facilities one day in February 2016. Oppus told his employer that he had forgotten to clock out at one facility before going to the next. The case was referred to the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation and was assigned to the Enforcement and Investigation Unit’s Sacramento field office. An investigator obtained and audited Oppus’ timekeeping records at both facilities and found that between November 1, 2015, and February 10, 2016, there were 59 dates when Oppus was clocked in at both facilities resulting in 115.95 hours of overlapping hours and more than $5,000 in overpayments to Oppus.

The charges were filed by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office. Oppus’ next court date is set for July 7, 2017, at 1:30 p.m.

The Physical Therapy Board of California is reviewing the case and will take disciplinary action against Oppus’ license as appropriate.


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.


Vocational Nurse Faces Discipline Following Conviction

Trista Sos, a licensed vocational nurse from Redding, faces disciplinary action by the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians after she pleaded no contest and was found guilty of one misdemeanor count of obtaining controlled substances by fraud and one misdemeanor count of petty theft.

Investigators from the Investigation and Enforcement Unit Sacramento Field Office within the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation investigated Sos after receiving information that she had been stealing narcotics from a convalescent home in Chico where she worked.

The investigation found that in May 2015, Sos received narcotics from staff who had worked the shift prior to hers, but at the end of her shift the narcotics were missing. The Butte County District Attorney’s Office initially charged Sos with three counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud and one count of petty theft.

The Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians has filed an accusation against Sos, alleging that she made false, incorrect, inconsistent or unintelligible entries in hospital records during her employment in Chico and also at a second employer in Red Bluff in October 2015.  The accusation also alleges that Sos self-administered marijuana without a physician’s recommendation from approximately 2014 to 2016.

The Accusation can be read here: Sos Accusation


Preliminary Hearing Scheduled for Capitola Unlicensed Therapist

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Christin Izett of Capitola will be in Santa Cruz County Superior Court December 12, 2016, for a preliminary hearing on charges of theft by false pretenses after she billed for counseling services that she was not licensed to provide.

An investigation conducted by the Investigation and Enforcement Unit-Hayward Field Office of the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation (DOI) found that Izett, a former marriage and family therapist intern whose intern license expired in 2012, continued to offer counseling services and billed patients for those services. Between 2012 and 2014, while working for a clinic in Santa Cruz, Izett allegedly misled patients into believing that she was a licensed marriage and family therapist and billed them thousands of dollars.

The Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office charged Izett with ten felony counts of theft by false pretenses.

The case was referred to DOI after the Board of Behavioral Sciences received numerous consumer complaints about Izett.

 

 


Judge Suspends Modesto Nurse’s Ability to Practice

Central California Woman Charged with 11 Felony Counts

PrintRegistered Nurse Kalliope “Kalli” Casaday, of Modesto, appeared in San Joaquin County Superior Court last week, to face 11 felony counts of illegally obtaining controlled substances by fraud.

The criminal case is the result of an investigation conducted by the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation (DOI) Investigation and Enforcement Unit – Central Valley Field Office.

DOI Investigators received information from the Stockton Police Department, alleging that Casaday had diverted controlled substances, including oxycodone and Vicodin, while working as a registered nurse in the emergency department of a Stockton hospital.

During the court proceeding, the Attorney General’s Office, on behalf of the California Board of Registered Nursing, requested an order restricting Casaday’s ability to practice as a registered nurse for the duration of the criminal proceedings.

The judge granted the order and Casaday is prohibited from practicing nursing until further notice.

Casaday is set to re-appear in the San Joaquin County Superior Court on December 14, 2016.


Vocational School Owner to Face Charges for Fraudulent Documents, Witness Intimidation

Benard Thomas of Salinas will appear in Monterey County Superior Court on November 17, 2016, on two felony charges of filing false documents with the state and two felony charges of intimidating a witness.  Print

Thomas, a registered nurse, was the owner of TLC Institute of Nursing Education, which offered an unapproved vocational nursing program in Salinas. Thomas advertised that his program would allow students to take the test to become licensed vocational nurses and students paid up to $5,000 to enroll in the program. Because the program was unapproved, Thomas allegedly provided falsified documents, including training hours and employment verification, to the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians so that students would be allowed to take their licensure tests. During the investigation of Thomas, he allegedly tried to intimidate students from talking to investigators.

The Division of Investigation (DOI) Investigation and Enforcement Unit – Hayward Field Office worked with the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office to investigate Thomas after a student complained about Thomas’ school to the Board of Registered Nursing.

The Board of Registered Nursing will pursue disciplinary action against Thomas as appropriate.


Man Arrested for Practicing Medicine Without License

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A Bakersfield man was arrested Tuesday for the unlicensed practice of medicine.

The Investigation and Enforcement Unit – Central Valley Field Office of the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation arrested Alberto Gonzalez on Tuesday, October 11, 2016, following the investigation of a complaint that was made by a local news reporter.

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Two Charged with Identity Theft and Unlicensed Practice of Engineering

Sacramento area father and son charged with felony and misdemeanor counts
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Igor Roman Kravets and his son Orest, owners of Kravets Development Group, in Carmichael, have been charged with five counts, including two felony counts for filing false documents with a public office and identity theft, and three misdemeanor counts for unlicensed practice of engineering, practicing a profession without proper license and false advertising.

The Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists initiated an investigation which was conducted by the Investigation and Enforcement Unit, Sacramento Field Office of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation.  The investigation led to a referral to the Marin County District Attorney’s Office.

In addition to submitting plans for a building project, the two also advertised that they were civil engineers and land surveyors, though neither holds a professional license.

Father and son were arraigned in Marin County Superior Court on July 25, 2016.


Man Arrested for Practicing Medicine Without a License

PrintSan Juan Bautista resident was also charged with assault with a deadly weapon

San Benito County – A San Juan Bautista man was arrested last week for the unlicensed practice of medicine.

The Investigation and Enforcement Unit – Central Valley Field Office of the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation investigated and arrested Slave Petkovski, also known as “Doc” Petkovski, following a consumer complaint that was made to the California Acupuncture Board.

An undercover investigation and subsequent search warrant revealed Petkovski ran a business in San Juan Bautista called Petkovski Massage, Fitness and Spine Center located at 301 Alameda, Suite J.  At the center, Petkovski treated patients using acupuncture and also offered chiropractic services, even though he is not licensed to offer either of these services.  Petkovski also offered a medical procedure in which he injected saline into patients’ spinal cords.

The California Acupuncture Board, the San Benito County Sheriff’s Department and Investigators with the San Benito County District Attorney’s Office also assisted with this investigation.

“Consumer safety is of the utmost importance,” said California Acupuncture Board executive officer Terri Thorfinnson. “Consumers need to seek health services from properly trained professionals who are licensed.”

The San Benito County District Attorney’s Office charged Petkovski with six counts of practicing medicine without a license and five counts of assault with a deadly weapon, all felonies. The bail amount was set at $270,000.00. Petkovski is scheduled to be arraigned on these charges in the San Benito County Superior Court on September 10, 2015.

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The Department of Consumer Affairs promotes and protects the interests of California Consumers. Consumers can file complaints against licensees by contacting the Department of Consumer Affairs at (800) 952-5210. Consumers can also file a complaint online at www.dca.ca.gov.


Santa Rosa Nurse Practitioner Pleads No Contest After Being Charged with Illegally Issuing Prescriptions

PrintA Santa Rosa nurse practitioner pleaded no contest last week after being charged with illegally issuing prescriptions to her family members.

An investigation led by the Investigation and Enforcement Unit in the Hayward Field Office of the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation found that nurse practitioner Mary Carroll-Ambrose, of Santa Rosa, wrote 48 prescriptions for opioid controlled substances to her husband, daughter and son. There were over 9,000 pills prescribed over a two-year period.

The pills included opioid painkillers such as Norco, hydrocodone and codeine.

As a nurse practitioner, Carroll-Ambrose’s practice and prescribing was supposed to be supervised by a physician at her employer, Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa, but her supervising physician had not authorized Carroll-Ambrose to prescribe narcotics to her family members and he was unaware of her prescribing activity.  Additionally, there were no records to indicate that Carroll-Ambrose had been treating family members in the normal course of practice at her employer.

The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office charged Carroll-Ambrose with four felony counts of illegally issuing prescriptions as a result of her writing prescriptions to her family which were allegedly not for a legitimate medical purpose and were not written in the usual course of her professional practice.  Carroll-Ambrose pleaded no contest to one felony count.

Carroll-Ambrose will appear in court for sentencing on October 14, 2015.

On June 15, 2015, the Board of Registered Nursing filed an Accusation to pursue disciplinary action against Carroll-Ambrose’s nursing license, which can be read here.