Minister found guilty of selling bogus cancer cure to Christians across the U.S.
9/28/2011, 8:39 a.m.
A doctor who's also a Pentecostal minister faces prison time and $5.5 million in fines for marketing and selling a self-manufactured product made of sunscreen preservative and beef extract flavoring as a cancer cure to patients across the country, via ads on a religious TV network.
Christine Daniel, 57, of Los Angeles, who operated a Mission Hills clinic under names such as Sonrise Wellness Center, was convicted late Monday in Los Angeles federal court of 11 counts of mail and wire fraud, tax evasion and witness tampering, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Daniel marketed and sold the bogus treatment that she and her employees claimed could cure many diseases and conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes and hepatitis, prosecutors said.
Daniel claimed the bogus cancer cure had a success rate of between 60 percent and 100 percent for Stage IV metastatic or terminal cancers, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Evidence presented during trial also showed that Daniel used her status as a minister to create a bond of trust with members of the Evangelical Christian community, an affinity that provided her with a market to sell her bogus treatment.
Daniel promoted the product under a variety of names--including "C-Extract," "the natural treatment" and "the herbal treatment"--through a program televised on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, according to court papers.
She and her employees falsely claimed that the product was made with herbs from around the world and was manufactured in a laboratory according to the needs of each patient, prosecutors said.
Depending on the purported level or strength of the herbal product, Daniel would charge her customers up to $4,270 for a one-week supply. She also offered a six-month treatment program for between $120,000 and $150,000.
Federal prosecutors presented evidence that Daniel's "treatment" did not cure anyone of cancer, nor was it was made from herbs from around the world or blended for individual patients.
Chemical analysis determined that the product contained sunscreen preservative and beef extract flavoring, among other ingredients, none of which could have had any effect on cancer or other diseases, according to expert testimony.
During the trial, the jury heard testimony from 28 victim-patients, or close family members of victims who had died while taking Daniel's product. The evidence showed that a significant percentage of Daniel's patients died within three month to six months after they started taking the bogus cure.
Daniel and employees working at her direction induced about 55 victims to send nearly $1 million to Daniel's Sonrise clinic, evidence showed.
Daniel is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Timlin on Dec. 5. She faces a potential maximum of 150 years in federal prison, and fines totaling $5.5 million, prosecutors said.