Calif. doctor convicted in cancer fraud case

AP News
Posted: Sep 27, 2011 6:53 PM
Calif. doctor convicted in cancer fraud case

A doctor who said she could cure late-stage cancer and other diseases through an herbal supplement has been convicted of defrauding more than 50 patients across the nation out of $1 million.

Christine Daniel, 57, of Los Angeles was found guilty Monday of 11 counts, including wire fraud, tax evasion and witness tampering. She faces up to 150 years in prison and $5.5 million in fines when she's sentenced on Dec. 5.

Daniel used her position both as a doctor at the Sonrise Wellness Center and a Pentecostal minister to entice people from across the nation to take her herbal product. She charged as much as $150,000 for a six-month treatment program that she said could cure cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's Disease and diabetes.

In court documents, authorities contend Daniel took advantage of patients who desperately sought alternative measures after enduring draining rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.

She claimed the supplement's success rate was between 60 and 100 percent for metastatic or terminal cancers. However, at trial experts called by federal prosecutors said chemical tests of the product showed it contained beef extract flavoring and a sunscreen preservative among other ingredients.

Many of her patients, relying on her product, died from complications of cancer within three to six months after taking the supplement. In all, authorities believe Daniel siphoned about $1.1 million from 55 families between 2001 and 2004.

Prosecutors said Daniel tried to influence the testimony of at least two witnesses who were called before a grand jury. She was acquitted of one count of witness tampering.

The trial, which began in March, took a four-month hiatus after the daughter of Daniel's defense attorney died in May. The lawyer was relieved and Daniel represented herself for the remainder of the trial. A phone listing for Daniel, who is free on bond, could not be found.