Quack Goes to Prison as Her Patients Go to the Morgue

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A licensed California medical doctor and Pentecostal minister who was knowingly promoting and selling a bogus cancer cure has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Considering she hastened the death of several people and made the last months of their lives pure inhumane misery, 14 years just doesn't quite seem long enough.

Christine Daniel, 58, ran a "clinic" of sorts in the southern California city of Santa Clarita. It went by various names, most notably the Sonrise Wellness Center. From this platform, Daniel and her employees made more than $1 million hawking a bogus medical treatment for advanced or late-stage cancers that she claimed had a cure rate of anywhere between 60 and 80 percent.

One blanket treatment for several late-stage cancers? Absurd since cancers are heterogeneous diseases and as different from one another as Huntington's disease and heart disease.

Has There Ever Been a Quack Cure that Wasn't a Panacea?

As is always the case in matters like these, Daniel's treatment didn't just cure cancer, no no no, where's the money in that? Like any quack treatment, Daniel's concoction also cured a host of other totally unrelated diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis and diabetes.

She claimed her treatment was derived from a choice selection of worldly herbs, but a chemical analysis revealed a mixture slightly more provincial: Primary ingredients included sunscreen preservative and beef extract flavoring.

United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. called her fraud "despicable, cruel and heinous" and added: "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."

It's one thing if this quack actually believed in her therapy. Then she might be guilty of extreme stupidity as well, but testimony at her trial demonstrated that this woman, a medical doctor, was not only greed-driven but also an extraordinarily sadistic sociopath.

Sadistic and Sociopathic Quackery

Witnesses – who were either former patients or family members of former patients who died under Daniel's care – testified that it was common for her to discourage patients from seeking conventional treatments like chemotherapy or radiation in conjunction with her 'therapy' because, she said, those treatments would lessen the efficacy of her sunscreen preservative beef extract flavoring breakthrough.

You could argue that she did that in order to keep her patients from discussing her quack remedy with qualified and ethical oncologists, who no doubt would have sounded the alarm had they been told.

But Daniels, using the same reduced-efficacy argument, also "forbid" her cancer patients from taking any analgesics to relieve the intense pain that many of them were in. According to the evidence, many of her cancer patients survived no more than six months after starting treatment on her quack remedy. No doubt they died in unimaginable pain. Did she get off on this?

Other evidence points to a sociopath at work. Daniels had a habit of meeting with these patients at her clinic, looking them directly in the eye and telling them that she had a miracle herbal treatment that could literally save their lives, but it wasn't free: rather, she collected more than $4,000 for a week's worth of her beef extract brew and as much as $120,000 for a six-month supply.

When the Conviction Does Not Match the Crime

Ultimately, she was convicted of mail and wire fraud, witness tampering, and tax evasion. Given that she is in fact an actual MD and that she was knowingly depriving these people of any chance of survival – meaning that, not being an ordinary person but one who took an oath to help and not harm people – common sense would seem to call for something more akin to criminally negligent manslaughter or even some degree of homicide.

At 58 and naïvely assuming she serves out her sentence, she'll be 72 when released. 72 and broke. Neither too old nor too ethical to perpetrate another fatal scam.

Image: Detail from 1930s WPA poster warning cancer patients to be wary of persons claiming to be physicians and promising to cure cancer.

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