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Arrest Made in Santa Ana Fake-Doctor Probe

A woman is jailed on suspicion of practicing medicine in her home without a license. One 'patient' was an undercover officer.

March 10, 2004|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

A Santa Ana woman has been arrested on suspicion of practicing medicine without a license after diagnosing and treating an undercover investigator posing as a patient, authorities said Tuesday.

Maria Genoveva Torres, 58, was taken into custody by Santa Ana police at a residence in the 800 block of Halladay Street and booked into Orange County Jail, where bail was set at $20,000, said Candis Cohen, spokeswoman for the Medical Board of California.

"This type of arrest is integral to our mission of patient protection," Cohen said.

Police began investigating after receiving a tip that Torres was representing herself as a physician and treating patients in her home, according to a statement released by the Orange County district attorney's office.

On several occasions, investigators drove by the house and saw adults and children waiting on the front porch.

On March 3, two undercover police officers visited Torres and complained that one of them was suffering from a stomach ailment.

Torres told the officer to remove his shirt and lie down on the floor, investigators said.

She diagnosed him with colitis, then treated him by putting a penny on his stomach, placing a lighted candle on the penny, covering it with a glass and rubbing the glass in a circular motion, authorities said.

Following the treatment, investigators said, Torres gave the officer a substance that she claimed would release the blockage in his stomach.

She was arrested Monday by officers who also seized large quantities of unapproved Mexican pharmaceuticals, hypodermic needles, syringes and $8,000 in cash, Cohen said.

Cohen declined to reveal how many patients or what other ailments Torres treated in the alleged medical scam.

"The medical board cautions prospective patients to avoid unlicensed individuals," she said. "Unfortunately, it's not that uncommon."

Torres is scheduled for arraignment April 5 in Santa Ana on charges that could result in three years in prison if she is convicted.

Anyone who may have been treated by her, Cohen said, should call the state medical board at (714) 247-2126.

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