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L.A. doctor-minister faces prison time

October 10, 2009 12:37:05 AM PDT
A Los Angeles doctor who promised her herbal treatments would cure cancer is facing possible prison time.The doctor, also an ordained Pentecostal minister, is accused of taking advantage of cancer patients in their darkest hour and making off with their money as well.

Dr. Christine Daniel appeared in a federal court Friday as a suspect accused of defrauding some 55 victims of more than $1 million.

Federal authorities say that the San Fernando doctor appeared on the Trinity Broadcasting Network selling herbal remedies and supplements that she said could cure cancer.

"The indictment alleges Dr. Daniel was stealing money from the most vulnerable people in our society, which are people who have been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and she is using her evangelical Christian faith to engage in what we call an affinity fraud, which is to basically con people into buying an herbal treatment which is supposed to cure cancer but doesn't," says Joseph Johns, assistant U.S. attorney.

Long-time Norwalk resident and cancer survivor Eugenia Vigiletti said she saw Dr. Daniel on TV in 2002 while she was in the midst of her struggle with breast cancer, one year after losing her husband to lung cancer.

"I lost my husband with cancer, and then I was trying to draw any straw, any limb I could get a hold of to save myself," described Vigiletti.

Vigiletti said that she paid Daniel $1,400 for some brown liquid in three small bottles and some capsules.

"I thought, okay, maybe she does have something, but it's a lie," said Vigiletti, "Just for the all mighty dollar, she doesn't care who she hurts."

According to federal investigators, six of Daniel's patients died within seven months of seeing her.

Friday afternoon, Daniel was released on a $150,000 bond, and she is set to return to court Oct. 19 to enter her plea.

Vigiletti says she only hopes it's not long before Daniel is put behind bars.

"I like to see her stuck in jail for the rest of her life," Vigiletti said.

The doctor's attorney had no comment on the case today.

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