Doctor sentenced to 14 Years for pushing bogus cancer cure
May 18, 2013
A California doctor who sold a bogus cancer cure to dozens of victims across the country as part of a “treatment” program that prosecutors said was “despicable, cruel and heinous” and hastened the death of some patients was sentenced Friday to 14 years in federal prison.
Christine Daniel, 58, of Santa Clarita, who operated a clinic under names such as the Sonrise Wellness Center, was sentenced to 168 months in prison by United States District Judge Robert J. Timlin for four counts of mail and wire fraud, six counts of tax evasion and one count of witness tampering.
Daniel, a medical doctor and prominent Pentecostal minister, fraudulently marketed and collected more than $1 million for a medical treatment that she and her employees claimed could cure many diseases and conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, diabetes and hepatitis. Daniel claimed that her bogus cancer cure had a success rate of between 60 percent and 80 percent for the most advanced forms of cancer.
However, Daniel’s treatment did not cure anyone of cancer, nor was it was made from herbs from around the world or blended for an individual patient, as she has promised patients. Chemical analyses determined that the product contained sunscreen preservative and beef extract flavoring, among other ingredients, none of which could have had any effect on cancer or other diseases, according to expert testimony.
“The scope of Daniel’s fraud was breathtaking,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “Daniel robbed victims of more than money – she also stole their hopes and dreams for a cure. Daniel is responsible for a shockingly cold-hearted fraud that has brought her a richly deserved federal prison sentence.”
Depending on the purported level or strength of the herbal product, Daniel would charge her customers up to $4,270 for one week’s worth of the herbal product. She offered a six-month treatment program for between $120,000 and $150,000. Daniel “personally met with her victims in her medical office, looked them in the eyes, and represented that she had a miracle, herbal cancer cure that could save their lives,” according to the government’s sentencing memorandum.
During the trial, the jury heard testimony from 28 victim-patients, or close family members of victims who had died while taking Daniel’s product. Some described how Daniel urged them to avoid conventional cancer treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy, because such therapies would reduce the efficacy of Daniel’s herbal “cure.” Family members testified that Daniel also forbid her cancer patients to take any pain relief medication for the same reason. Some of these patients spent the last few months of their lives in agony as the cancers spread throughout their bodies. The evidence presented at trial showed that a significant percentage of Daniel’s patients died within three to six months after they started taking Daniel’s bogus cure.
“Daniel repeatedly demonstrated a merciless and callous indifference to the suffering of her patients and their family members,” prosecutors wrote in court papers.
Daniel and employees working at her direction induced approximately 60 victims to send more than $1.2 million to Daniel’s Sonrise clinic. In an attempt to operate the business under the guise of a non-profit organization, Daniel instructed patients to classify their medical service payments as donations.
The evidence presented at trial showed that Daniel attempted to influence the testimony of at least two witnesses who were called to testify before the grand jury. One of those witnesses, a long-time patient of Daniel, admitted during trial that he lied to both law enforcement officers and the federal grand jury after being improperly influenced by her.