Former Santa Clarita-Area Physical Therapist Convicted of Identity Theft

Joseph Amirian of Canyon Country, Calif., will appear in Los Angeles County Superior Court on September 14, 2018, for a restitution hearing in an ongoing case in which he has pleaded no contest to one felony count of identity theft. Amirian entered his plea and was sentenced in June.

The Investigation and Enforcement Unit–Chatsworth Field Office within the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation led the investigation into Amirian, who was initially charged with six felonies including two counts of identity theft and four counts of forgery and counterfeiting.

Amirian was previously licensed as a physical therapist, but his license was revoked in 2015. Investigators found that following the revocation, Amirian continued to provide in-home physical therapy under the company name, “JA Services.” Amirian allegedly billed for the therapy by using the names of several licensees without their knowledge.

The investigation found that Amirian had been hired to provide in-home care to the patient after he presented his employer with a forged driver license, physical therapist license, CPR card, and malpractice insurance information that were all in the name of another licensee.

This case was the third time the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Amirian.

In 2008, Amirian was convicted of forgery after he forged the signature of a patient on a $5,000 check which he then attempted to cash. In 2010, Amirian’s physical therapy license was suspended for one year and placed on probation for an additional five years with numerous practice restrictions.

During the one-year license suspension, Amirian was found to have continued to work as a physical therapist by using the name and license information of another licensee. In 2012, he was charged with five felony counts of forgery and counterfeiting and five felony counts of practicing medicine without a license. He pleaded no contest to two counts of practicing medicine without a license and was placed on three years of formal probation in 2014. Following that conviction, Amirian’s physical therapist license was revoked, however, the Physical Therapy Board continued to receive complaints that Amirian was using the names of other licensees in order to provide physical therapy services.

Amirian’s disciplinary records can be read here:

https://search.dca.ca.gov/details/7201/PT/32333/9d84395aa5645c5766faf7958fb303d5#pr

 


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

 

 

 

 

 


Osteopathic Medical Doctor Charged in Prescription Fraud Case

A San Diego doctor stands accused of 11 felony charges for allegedly prescribing controlled substances for his own use.

Dr. Robert Scott Klein is scheduled to appear in San Diego Superior Court on June 8, 2018. Klein has been charged with two counts of identity theft, one count of insurance fraud and eight counts of prescription forgery.

The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation – Investigation and Enforcement Unit San Diego Field Office, investigated Klein at the request of the Osteopathic Medical Board.

Investigators found that in August and October 2016, Klein allegedly obtained prescriptions for Ambien using a patient’s identity and insurance information. The prescriptions were fraudulently called-in to a pharmacy using another medical provider’s name. Further investigation found that in June and August 2016, Klein allegedly obtained prescriptions for Ambien using a family member’s identity and insurance information, by calling-in a prescription using a second medical provider’s name. Additionally, from 2014 to 2016, Klein allegedly used his own name to prescribe prescriptions for Ambien, Ativan, Restoril, and Soma in the names of his family member and a neighbor. None of these individuals received the medications.

On behalf of the Osteopathic Medical Board, the Attorney General’s Office will be requesting an Interim Suspension Order to limit Klein’s ability to practice as an Osteopathic Physician and Surgeon.


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.

 


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


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.