A woman pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to pretending to be a doctor while running clinics throughout the country — including one in Marietta — during the last 15 years.
Prosecutors said Isabel Kesari Gervais, 60, used multiple aliases while offering naturopathic medicine, which the federal government says uses homeopathic and detoxification methods, among other things, to help patients heal themselves.
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She entered her plea in an Alabama federal court and admitted to running clinics in Arkansas and Kansas as well as Georgia. Gervais had “no legitimate medical degrees or training,” according to a news release from federal prosecutors.
The American Medical Association recently said 18 states offer naturopathic medical licences. Georgia is not one of them.
The prosecutors said Gervais — often using variations on the names “Dr. Rose Starr” or “Debra Lynn Goodman” — ran the Chiron Clinic on Johnson Ferry Road in Marietta.
Georgia business records show a “Debrah L. Goodman” registered The Chiron Clinic Atlanta LLC to an office inside Northside Hospital during April 2004. The business dissolved in May 2008.
“At all the clinics, Gervais falsely represented herself as a licensed doctor with extensive experience and various degrees who used naturopathic medicine to cure people of various illnesses, including cancer,” the release said.
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To stay out of trouble, authorities said, she abandoned rental properties and changed locations all while adopting new aliases.
According the indictment, she made charges on the credit cards of Alabama patients totaling about $9,000. She operated that clinic in Hoover out of an herb shop.
“She promised patients, including cancer sufferers, at the Hoover clinic that she could provide various medical services, including DNA tests that she did not have the technology to conduct,” prosecutors said.
She had “Dr. Rose Starr” business cards and advertised with that name online and on the radio in Alabama, the indictment said.
Gervais pleaded guilty to one charge each of wire fraud affecting a financial institution, aggravated identity theft and making false statements.
She faces a maximum of 37 years and fines up to $1.25 million.
She already agreed to forfeit $108,146 she gained from the illegal activity.
Gervais has been in Alabama’s Shelby County jail since March 24, according to the jail’s online database.
Prosecutors said she is set to be sentenced in November.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is your watchdog on health care. Read more about investigations involving practitioners at Doctors.AJC.com.