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California Doctor Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison After Selling Phony Cancer Cures

Update Date: May 22, 2013 02:14 PM EDT

A California doctor was sentenced to 14 years in prison after having sold herbs that purported to serve as a cure for various illnesses, like late-stage cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease.

According to Discovery News, Christine Daniel was a Pentecostal minister who sold miracle cures through her clinic in the San Fernando Valley and through a television program called Praise the Lord. She said that the herbs had a success rate of 80 percent.

However, the Associated Press reports that the reality was much more sinister. The herbs that she concocted and sold contained ingredients like sunscreen preservative and beef extract flavoring. Many of the patients who she claimed to try to help died within three to six months of turning to her herbs, often of treatable cancers. One patient, a 22-year-old woman, died after following Daniel's advice to avoid chemotherapy and radiation, though it turned out that she had a highly treatable form of neck lymphoma.

Dr. Daniel was found guilty on 11 charges, including wire fraud, tax evasion and witness tampering. Aside from serving time in prison, the 58-year-old has been ordered to pay $1,277,083. It is believed that she swindled patients and their families out of $1.1 million. Prosecutors were fighting for her to serve 27 years in prison; her lawyers said that fewer than six years would be sufficient.

"The scope of Daniel's fraud was breathtaking," U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said in a statement. "Daniel robbed victims of more than money - she also stole their hopes and dreams for a cure. Daniel is responsible for a shockingly cold-hearted fraud that has brought her a richly deserved federal prison sentence."

Federal prosecutors also stated that Daniel preyed on people while they were in their most vulnerable state. She also likely used her status as a minister to exert authority of people, particularly those of faiths who believe that modern medicine should be eschewed in favor of prayer and herbs.

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