SAN DIEGO–A woman has been sentenced to three years in jail after being convicted of practicing medicine without a license and committing grand theft.
Kathleen Ann Helms, 57, claimed to be a doctor and promised patients she could cure Lyme Disease. Helms was sentenced today by San Diego Superior Court Judge Dwayne Moring.
“By posing as doctor, diagnosing people and then charging thousands of dollars for what amounted to a dangerous cure, this defendant showed a callous disregard for her victims,” said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “Our Consumer Unit works to hold individuals who provide dangerous treatment accountable for their actions and the harm done to their victims.”
Helms ‘diagnosed’ patients with Lyme Disease and charged them thousands of dollars, infusing the patients with a non-FDA approved chemical solvent known as Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) and what she claimed were bovine stem cells. One of the patients became seriously ill, was rushed to the hospital and treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for organ failure. The victim was not expected to live and has still not fully recovered from her injuries. Helms is not a licensed medical doctor, osteopath or naturopath.
“This case is a reminder that consumers need to verify the credentials of health care providers, particularly when seeking alternative medical therapies,” said Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen this before.”
In a similar criminal case prosecuted by the District Attorney in 2011, a Bonita man who posed as a doctor and offered patients non-FDA-approved dietary supplements as alternative remedies for cancer, arthritis and other ailments was convicted, sentenced to a year in jail and fined $60,000.
Kurt Walter Donsbach, 75, pleaded guilty to 13 felony charges, including practicing medicine without a license and selling misbranded drugs.