Wednesday, May 16, 2018
FAYETTEVILLE -- A woman who claimed she was a doctor to scam patients -- including some in Northwest Arkansas -- was sentenced in Alabama to more than six years in federal prison after she pleaded guilty to charges including wire fraud and identity theft.
Before authorities caught Isabell Kesari Gervais in Alabama, the self-described neuropath, traditional healer and oriental medicine practitioner fleeced patients at clinics in Northwest Arkansas and skipped the area when things started getting hot, court documents show.
Gervais operated Sagewood Medical Clinic in Fayetteville, then moved to Johnson and changed the name to Ascension Medical Clinic before leaving the area, leaving no forwarding address.
She was eventually arrested in Alabama, where she was again operating clinics and scamming patients, and was sent back to Arkansas where she was convicted Dec. 5, 2016, on five counts of theft by deception and one count of fraudulent use of a credit card in Washington County under the name Isabell Goodman. The Arkansas Court of Appeals upheld those convictions earlier this year. Gervais also pleaded guilty to passport fraud and forging a judge's signature.
In the Alabama case, Gervais created a business, Euro Med Klinic in Hoover, Ala., under the name "Dr. Rose Starr" that operated from March 2015 through November 2015, according to court documents. Prosecutors have determined Gervais took between $95,000 and $150,000 from more than 10 victims at Euro Med Klinic.
A negotiated agreement between a criminal defendant and a prosecutor in which the defendant agrees to plead “guilty” or “no contest” to some crimes, along with possible conditions in return for reduction of the severity of the charges, dismissal of some of the charges, or some other benefit to the defendant.
"Although it resulted in significant losses, the thrust of the defendant's crime is not financial. It is personal. The wrong perpetrated by the defendant was cruel and dangerous. The defendant preyed on vulnerable, desperate people and provided them with false hope," Erica Williamson Barnes, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Alabama, said in court filings. "She told them that she could do things that she simply was not trained or qualified to do. She asked them probing intimate questions about their health and their lifestyle, poked and prodded them for samples, connected them to machines, fed them pills and liquids, and then she left them feeling lied to and exploited."
Authorities said Gervais moved her fraudulent medical clinic to Hoover from Arkansas to avoid detection by law enforcement.
On Tuesday, a federal judge in Alabama sentenced Gervais to a total of 75 months in prison and ordered her to pay more than $45,000 restitution for her crimes in Alabama. No fine was assessed.
Gervais pleaded guilty to the Alabama charges July 25, 2017. She agreed to forfeit more than $108,000 and pay restitution as part of her plea bargain. Probation after her release from prison is also required.
An affidavit for an arrest warrant said Gervais claimed to be a doctor with a license from the United Kingdom, that she was charging drastically inflated prices for "medicines" at her clinics, gave her patients treatments and tests of questionable legitimacy, charged them for office visits and treatments that never occurred and was making unauthorized charges on patient credit cards.
Most of the counts against Gervais in the federal indictment happened in Alabama, but a count of identity theft involving a fake Arkansas driver's license was transferred to Alabama and included.
As part of the plea deal, Gervais will be barred from working anywhere she would have access to people's personal identifying information or working in the medical treatment of patients.
Six charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement, including five counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
NW News on 05/16/2018
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