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Alleged San Francisco phony doctor
pleads not guilty


February 22, 2006

By Adam Martin, Bay City News Service

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - A former San Francisco doctor pleaded not guilty today to practicing medicine without a license and a host of other charges.

Stephen Turner, 51, who was arrested last week on 131 charges including 106 felonies, wore orange jail clothing and stood next to his attorney Herman Franck. Turner faces 49 counts of practicing medicine without a license, 27 counts of mishandling blood samples and 30 counts of offering false records for filing, according to the district attorney's office.

Outside the courtroom Franck said his client thought that, even though he did not have a state-issued license, he had the approval of the federal government to provide vaccinations and tests for immigrants applying for permanent resident status.

Franck said Turner had injected saline instead of vaccines because he could not get the vaccines without a medical license.

"You can't just walk into a store and get that stuff,'' Franck said today.

Turner surrendered his license in 1998 after he was placed on probation following two misdemeanor convictions of indecent exposure. He allegedly operated two clinics in San Francisco's Mission District from 1999 to 2005, injecting patients with fake vaccinations and providing false results of AIDS and Syphilis tests, according to charges filed by the San Francisco district attorney's office.

Franck said many functions that normally require state licenses do not necessarily require a license on the federal level. He gave, as an example, U.S. tax court, in which those arguing do not need to be licensed attorneys. He said that even after he had surrendered his license, Turner had been on a list of healthcare providers federally approved to do tests and vaccines on hopeful immigrants.

During the arraignment today, Franck entered the a plea of not guilty, filed a motion to reduce bail and preliminarily announced that some of the charges against Turner did not fall under the jurisdiction of the district attorney's office, but rather the U.S Department of Justice.

"I'd be happy to have the federal government join us in the prosecution,'' said prosecutor John Dwyer in response to the suggestion his office did not have jurisdiction to file all the charges it had.

"I bet he would,'' replied Franck.

Prosecutor June Cravett said she didn't believe there was any merit to Franck's claim that the district attorney's office does not have jurisdiction over all the charges it filed. "Our jurisdiction is clearly applicable,'' she said. Cravett said the charges in question are those of filing false documents with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Though he entered a not-guilty plea on Turner's behalf today, Franck said he hoped the case would not go to trial. He said Turner was not "public enemy no. 1,'' as his client had been portrayed by the prosecution.

"He's not one of these people who put poison in kids candy,'' Franck said. Franck said. "At this point we want to cooperate, make amends and do the right thing by fessing up.'' Franck pointed out that, though Turner has two previous convictions for indecent exposure, those convictions were expunged after he completed the terms of his probation.

Part of Turner's probation included psychotherapy to treat a diagnosed case of exhibitionism with predominance of narcissistic and passive aggressive features, according to California Medical Board records. Franck said Turner's recent alleged crimes are a result of his psychiatric problems.

He said Turner was "having an episode as we speak.'' San Francisco Superior Court Judge Gerald Ragen denied Franck's motion to release Turner on his own recognizance, keeping his bail at $1,450,000. He approved a motion to have a psychiatric test done on Turner.

Turner was ordered to return to court March 16 for a pre-trial conference. The results of his psychiatric test will be heard on March 1.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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