Doctor, co-conspirator convicted for stem cell procedure fraud - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Doctor, co-conspirator convicted for stem cell procedure fraud

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A Henderson pediatrician and a co-conspirator were convicted on Wednesday of conspiracy and fraud, having bilked thousands from chronically ill patients.

The two performed a stem cell procedure they knew wouldn't work on patients who suffer with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other diseases.

Ralph M. Conti, M.D., 51, of Henderson, and Alfred T. Sapse, 86, of Las Vegas were both convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. Both face up to five years in prison for conspiracy and up to 20 years in prison for each fraud count. They additionally face fines of up to $250,000 on each count and must forfeit money or property of up to $913,748.

"Persons who commit health care fraud on individuals and the health care system will be vigorously prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for Nevada," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "These defendants allowed greed rather than compassion to control their actions, and they must now suffer the consequences and penalty."

According to Bogden, beginning in 2005, Sapse, who purports to be a foreign retired physician but is not licensed to practice medicine in the United States, convinced patients to undergo experimental implant procedures, charging them thousands.

Conti, who had no experience with stem cell procedures, was hired by Sapse to perform those procedures, which he did on at least 34 Las Vegas patients.

The procedure was never approved by the FDA and the two knew it had little if any chance of producing results.

Sapse received roughly $1 million from patients and investors, much of which he spent at Las Vegas casinos. Conti pocketed about $60,000.

Both are scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 27, 2013.

Copyright 2012 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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