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Phony San Francisco doctor pleads guilty to five felony counts

By Adam Martin, Bay City News Service

March 23, 2006

A former doctor from Hayward arrested last month for practicing medicine without a license in San Francisco pleaded guilty today to five felony counts.

Stephen Turner, 51, agreed to a state prison sentence of seven years and eight months in exchange for his guilty plea, Assistant District Attorney Maxwell Peltz said today.

Turner admitted to two counts of practicing medicine without a license, one count of mishandling blood samples, one count of filing false records and one count of grand theft, Peltz said. The charges come with two enhancements for his victims losing more than $150,000.

Turner operated two clinics in San Francisco's Mission district from 1999 to 2005. There, he offered medical exams required for immigrants applying for permanent resident status. He was accused of giving shots of saline solution instead of vaccine and taking blood samples that he never sent to a lab. He also falsified the results of tests on those samples.

"We're very satisfied with the amount of prison time,'' Peltz said outside the San Francisco superior courtroom of Judge Harold E. Kahn, where Turner entered his plea. The stiff punishment, he said, matches the seriousness of the crime and the number of victims.

Peltz said Turner stole at least $200 from each of 114 victims. In addition to his expected jail sentence, Turner will be charged $138,000 in fines and restitutions.

Turner's lawyer, Herman Franck, said Turner was "very anxious and very nervous'' about his upcoming prison sentence. "He wants to sign up for what he needs to do, and he wants to do it,'' Franck said, "but he's worried about staying safe in prison.''

Franck said Turner had operated his two San Francisco clinics after surrendering his license because he needed the money.

"He's got a bad situation,'' Franck said. "He doesn't have a license, can't make any money and he has a family.''

Franck said Turner owed $1 million to settle a harassment suit leveled against him in 1997 after he allegedly pursued a woman who was not interested in him.

Turner's wife and three children will have to give up their Hayward home following today's plea, Franck said. "They've got to figure out what they're going to do next.''

Turner surrendered his license in 1998, according to California Medical Board records. The board had placed him on probation after he exposed himself to young women on two separate incidents in 1984 and 1992.

In 1994, the board revoked Turner's license, but stayed that revocation, placing him on seven years' probation instead. Turner gave up his license in 1998 instead of completing his probation.

Board spokeswoman Candis Cohen said today that Turner could, in future, reapply for his license with the board.

"Every licensee has due process rights. Under the law, physicians who have lost that license may petition for reinstatement of that license three years after they lose it,'' Cohen said.

Turner will have the right to apply for his license.

"Every case is considered individually, with past acts taken into
account,'' Cohen said.

Peltz today said that, while the immigration status of Turner's victims is under the control of the U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services, "we expect that people who followed the rules and got the exams will not be penalized.''

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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