Las Vegas man accused of scamming ill patients using stem cells


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Las Vegas man accused of scamming ill patients using stem cells

Updated: Jul 16, 2010 2:32 AM EDT

Man accused of scamming ill patients using stem cells

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - An 84-year-old man appeared in federal court after prosecutors say he gave false hopes to chronically ill patients. Federal prosecutors allege the man isn't licensed to practice medicine in the United States.

Alfred Sapse is accused of hiding behind stem cell research to scam people with incurable diseases, like multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

Sapse was arrested in Las Vegas by special agents and appeared in federal court on Thursday on seven counts of mail fraud, 13 counts of write fraud and criminal forfeiture.

According to prosecutors, Sapse never got any approvals from the FDA and never conducted any follow-ups on his patients. He did allegedly claim to have come up with a novel medical cure.

The elderly man claiming to be doctor reportedly used an unidentified Las Vegas pediatrician and a Mexican doctor to perform these risky and experimental procedures.

The indictment says Sapse said he was going to "revolutionize medicine as it is known today" and told wheelchair bound patients that they would "definitely walk again". Under Sapse's direction, physicians are suspected of implanting human placental tissue into these sick patients. Many later reported suffering from infections and allegedly only became more ill.

More than 130 chronically ill patients were treated with Sapse's advisement. Some of his neighbors say they are sickened by the allegations.

"It's almost like a sociopath. He knows right from wrong. It doesn't matter. He's going to do what he wants to do," said neighbor Tina Root.

Others can't believe he would prey on such ill people.

"It's terrible, terrible. People thought they were going to be helped, and now they're not being helped at all. That's the worst part of it all," said neighbor Mary Schwartz.

Sapse is accused of scamming approximately $1 million dollars from patients and investors. He is claiming he has spent $700,000 of that money on "personal expenditures and gambling at casinos". He pleaded not guilty to these charges and has been released on his own recognizance.

A trial date has been set for September. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.