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Phony Physician, 70, Gets a Decade Added to Prison Sentence

May 18, 2004|Caitlin Liu Times Staff Writer

A man with a lengthy history of impersonating a physician was sentenced Monday to 10 additional years in prison, according to federal authorities.

Gerald Barnes, 70, was convicted in 1981, 1984, 1989 and 1996 of posing as a doctor in various medical clinics in Southern California.

After escaping from custody in 2000, he was found by authorities several months later working as a doctor at a North Hollywood medical clinic.

At Barnes' sentencing hearing Monday, federal prosecutors originally asked for an eight-year prison term, more than double the federal sentencing guidelines recommended for the crime. But U.S. District Judge J. Spencer Letts said that it wasn't enough and tacked on two additional years.

"This was an exceptional departure warranted by the case," Assistant U.S. Atty. Daniel A. Saunders said.

"The judge made clear in his sentencing that ... he couldn't in good conscience impose a lesser sentence."

Letts also ordered the defendant to stop identifying himself as Gerald Barnes, the name of a real physician in Stockton. Barnes, who was born Gerald Barnbaum, contends he legally changed his name in the 1970s, but the judge found no evidence of that.

Barnes' 10-year prison term will not begin until 2009, when he has finished serving his other sentences.

"The indications are he'll spend the rest of his life in prison," Saunders said.

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