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Doctors Guilty in Stem Cell Fraud Case

by Nathan BacaKLAS-TV Las Vegas
November 28th, 2012

Alfred Sapse (left) and Dr. Ralph Conti were found guilty of defrauding investors.

LAS VEGAS -- Dr. Ralph Conti and Alfred Sapse were found guilty on all counts in federal court Wednesday of defrauding patients out of more than $1 million in promising bogus experimental stem cell treatments.

They faced charges for an alleged scheme to defraud people with incurable diseases with a so-called miracle stem cell cure that involved injections of placentas.

Sapse, 86, recruited Conti, 51, a pediatrician, for the scheme. The problem entails his adult patients who prosecutors say were given intoxicating promises. The pledges included cures for multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and claims the handicapped could walk again. Instead, prosecutors say Conti delivered infected injections and unproven science.

Conti and Sapse were accused of defrauding patients out of upwards of $1 million with a medical practice that injected people with stem cells from placentas. They faced 24 felony charges for the financial part of the fraud.

Prosecutors say the money paid by the incurable patients went to Sapse's personal accounts and to pay for gambling.

He hired Conti to do the injections on adults. Prosecutors say he did no follow-up with patients, tracked no data and flatly told one patient the so-called treatment wouldn't even work. He also allegedly injected cells he knew had been infected.

This whole treatment could have been stopped five years ago. The I-Team found the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration and the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners tried to shut Conti down.

Instead, the board only gave him a public reprimand and a $7,000 fine for not responding to questions.

Conti and Sapse were each convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. Conti was convicted of two counts each of mail fraud and wire fraud.

Sapse was convicted of seven counts of mail fraud and 11 counts of wire fraud. They face up to five years in prison on the conspiracy count and up to 20 years on each fraud count. They also face fines up to $250,000 for each count and must forfeit money and property up to $913,748.

Their sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 27.

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