Daryn Peterson must have been flying pretty high on June 10, when he opened the Orange County Register and read Courtney Perkes' feature story on him, "A Rejection of Western Medicine."
Today, the 37-year-old Las Vegas resident was arrested and charged with unauthorized practice of medicine, operating a health care service plan without a license, treating cancer without a license, offering an unapproved drug for cancer treatment, and misrepresenting himself as a licensed medical practitioner.
Among the allegedly fake doctor's victims was the Orange County Register.
So much for all publicity is good publicity.
Peterson claimed his products have cured cancer, AIDS, peanut allergies and heart failure. He has yet to produce data to prove those assertions, but Internet advertisements and cable TV infomercials have been produced to push his outlandish claims.
And then there's the Register story. It's a safe bet the Orange County District Attorney's office has a subscription. They announced today's arrest of the "unlicensed man claiming to be a natural-medicine 'doctor.'" The announcement includes this: Some "patients" featured in the Register story were related to Peterson by blood or friendship. One merely dropped their last name for the story.
The DA's account:
On June 10, 2009, the Orange County Register published a color-picture article on the front page on the Life/Wellness section of the newspaper titled "A Rejection of Western Medicine" with subheading, "Clients swear by natural treatments, but many others doubtful." An online version of the same story was posted the day before with the headline, "Natural Doctor Says He Can Cure Cancer, AIDS."
The article featured Peterson, a self-proclaimed doctor, claiming to cure cancer and AIDS, and encouraging "patients" to cancel their health insurance policies. In the article, Peterson represents that his supplements have cured "cancer, AIDS, peanut allergies and heart failure." That morning, alarmed by the potential health risks to the community and the recklessness of the article, the OCDA began an investigation into the matter.
An undercover district attorney investigator was tasked with signing up as a patient on Peterson's Natural Health Care Organization website. Peterson is accused of communicating with the "patient" online, and later arranging a meeting in his Mira Loma apartment. After hearing that the "patient" had been diagnosed with lymphoma and was scared of the chemotherapy recommended by his doctor, Peterson is accused of saying he treats many cancer patients, that the chemotherapy would kill faster than the cancer, and that he boasted an 88 percent success rate in treating all types of cancer, including Lymphoma.
Peterson is further accused of telling the "patient" that he could "expect almost complete reversal" within one year of taking his "all-natural" vitamins and natural supplements on a daily basis. He is accused of performing a medical examination of the "patient," including listening to his heart while asking him to breathe and looking in his eyes.
According to the OCDA, the investigation discovered:
* At the time the article was published, Peterson was running his business using a mail drop-box located on Marguerite Parkway in Mission Viejo;
*He treated his "patients" in his Orange County residence;
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*The defendant possesses no professional licenses issued by the state of California. Comprehensive medical exams and a license from the state to practice medicine and dispense prescriptions.
*Peterson allegedly offered patients an "insurance" plan or an HMO not licensed by the California Department of Managed Health Care or the Department of Insurance, as required by law.
*The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the California Department of Health Care Services have not approved any of the supplements recommended by Peterson for the treatment of cancer. Doctors are authorized by law to represent that they have an effective treatment for cancer only if the drug has been approved by the FDA.
The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Carol Mona at (714) 648-3620.