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Robert Oldham Young, 61 , and Rocio “Rosie” Placensia , 32 , of Valley Center, have been charged with conspiracy to practice medicine without a license and multiple counts of grand theft. Young is a published author of the “The pH Miracle,” a diet designed to “alkalinize the body.” The charges allege Young and his cohorts ran afoul of the law when he went beyond advocating dietary changes and used intravenous treatments on patients housed on Young’s avocado ranch in Valley Center.

Young runs the “pH Miracle Center” in Valley Center. He advertises health retreats and medical diagnostic services on his website. Although not a medical facility, Young accepted patients, including terminally ill people, and housed them in temporary quarters on his avocado ranch. Young came to prominence after appearances on Oprah, centred on his treatment of Kim Tinkham for breast cancer. Tinkham and Young both claimed that he had cured her, but she died of her disease shortly afterwards. Young received multiple degrees from Clayton College of Natural Health (formerly American College of Holistic Nutrition), a school that lacked accreditation from any accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. These include a Master of Science in nutrition (1993), a D.Sc. with emphasis in chemistry and biology (1995), a Ph.D. (1997) and an N.D. (Doctor of Naturopathy, 1999).

In 1995, Young allegedly drew blood from two women, told them they were ill, and then sold them herbal products to treat these illnesses. He was charged with two third-degree felony counts of practicing medicine without a license, but pled guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge. Young argued that he had never claimed to be a medical doctor, that the women had entrapped him by asking to be part of his research, and that he “looked at the women’s blood and simply gave them some nutritional advice.” In 2001, Young was again charged with a felony in Utah, after a cancer patient alleged that Young told her to stop chemotherapy and to substitute one of his products to treat her cancer. Subsequently, when an undercover agent visited Young, he allegedly analyzed her blood and prescribed a liquid diet. The case was taken to preliminary trial, but charges were dropped after the prosecutor stated that he could not find enough people who felt cheated by Young. Young dismissed the arrests as “harassment” and stated that he moved to California because the legal climate there was more tolerant.

Young was arrested this month in San Diego and received 18 felony charges relating to practising medicine without a license, and of theft. According to the Medical Board of California’s press release chronically ill patients were paying Young up to $50,000 for his treatments.

In a similar criminal case prosecuted by the District Attorney earlier this year, Keith Barton, a La Mesa man was convicted of multiple counts of practicing medicine without a license and grand theft for offering a bogus cure for HIV and cancer. Barton is awaiting sentencing on February 10 . Barton called himself “Dr. Barton” and promised to cure a woman and her children of HIV. One of the children subsequently died as a result of not receiving effective treatment. The victim paid Barton $18,000 for the treatment. He also advised a woman wi th autoimmune disease to surgically extract all of her teeth and to take an ineffective treatment called “Dendritic Cellular Therapy.” This victim paid Barton more than $32,000 for his remedies. Barton is not a licensed medical doctor, osteopath or naturopath but shares his name with a real medical doctor who is licensed in California. Barton used the fact that only his middle name differed from the real Dr. Barton to create the impression that he was a licensed professional.

Previous prosecutions by the Consumer Unit include Kathleen Helms, a San Diego woman who posed as a doctor and offered patients non – FDA – approved DMSO infusions as alternative remedies for autoimmune disorders, and Kurt Walter Donsbach, 75, who pleaded guilty to 13 felony charges, including practicing medicine without a license and selling misbranded drugs.