Cobb DA: Secretary worked as nurse at illegal Atlanta medical practice

Mugshot of Shannon Denise Williams

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

A woman is in Cobb County jail for allegedly helping run an illegal metro Atlanta medical practice with two doctors who have histories of bad behavior.

Shannon Denise Williams was arrested in Clayton County, where she lives. She was then transferred to Cobb jail where, as of Monday, she remained with a bond of $200,000, jail records show.

Doctors & Sex Abuse, part one of an AJC investigation: License to betray

Williams, 33, has been a wanted person since she and the doctors were indicted in May on charges of racketeering, theft and practicing medicine without a license.

Cobb investigators accuse Williams of helping former doctors Peter Ulbrich and Nathaniel Johnson III keep up the charade of a legitimate medical practice, which included surgery.

Mugshots of Dr. Peter Ulbrich (left) and former doctor Nathaniel Johnson III (Cobb County Sheriff's Office)

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Cobb County Sheriff's Office

The indictment said sometimes Ulbrich would watch as Johnson, who barred by the state from doing surgery, would perform all or part of a surgical procedure.

The investigation began when patients came forward about procedures done by Johnson, according to Cobb warrants from July. This all allegedly happened between February 2015 and November 2016.

Johnson ran three medical facilities registered in Cobb: Hello Beautiful, Genesis Medical Aesthetics and Royal Advanced Healthcare Centers.

At the time, Ulbrich was a licensed doctor — albeit one with a disciplinary history for sexual misconduct.

Johnson gave up his license as part of a 2014 plea deal in which he admitted to bilking Medicaid of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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That was three years after a woman died during liposuction he was administering, records show, and the Georgia Composite Medical Board barred the OB/GYN from such work.

As for Ulbrich, he was one of many doctors included in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's award-winning Doctors & Sex Abuse series. He previously admitted to the medical board that he had had sex with two female patients.

ExploreHow to report sex abuse by your doctor

The series prompted the Georgia medical board to conduct an internal review of its handling of sexual misconduct cases. The board announced that it would do more to protect patients from doctors who “use coercion or power for sex.” The board’s plan included educating doctors, investigating all allegations and disciplining doctors with public consent orders and license revocations when allegations are proven.

As part of his discipline, Ulbrich went to a treatment center in Lawrence, Kansas, for two months in 2010, and his license was suspended.

After failing a polygraph test when asked about "sexual encounters" with patients, he admitted to sexual contact with four former female patients after leaving the rehabilitation program in Kansas. Three months after his arrest, Ulbrich's license was suspended by the medical board.

It's not unusual for the state medical board to allow doctors with a history of malpractice, patient sex abuse or other violations to return to practice, according to AJC reviews of medical board records. The doctor-dominated medical board routinely sends errant physicians to classes and therapy programs and then allows them to see patients again.

Prosecutors said Williams helped with medical procedures and “many patients were under the impression that Ms. Williams was the office nurse, although in actuality she did not possess the licensure for that.”

READ: How one state may remove secrecy that protects sexually predatory doctors

The state is making the case that racketeering charges are appropriate because the three allegedly decieved 40 patients who paid for care they thought was by licensed medical professionals.
"A person can be in an office and can do things ... a nurse can assist without practicing medicine," Dwight Thomas, Johnson's attorney, previously told The AJC.

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