Los Angeles Times

Man swindled cancer patient, authoritie­s say

The suspect allegedly gave a woman expired medication and a bag of dirt as part of his alternativ­e treatment.

- By Veronica Rocha veronica.rocha@latimes.com Twitter: @VeronicaRo­chaLA

Authoritie­s say a Northern California man claiming to practice natural medicine swindled a Thousand Oaks cancer patient out of thousands of dollars by giving her expired medication and a baggie of dirt to treat her ailments.

Ventura County sheriff ’ s officials say Vincent Gammill furnished dangerous drugs without a license, including more than 25,000 prescripti­on pills, morphine and other substances from Mexico and Russia.

Gammill, who is out on bail, could not bereached for comment.

Gammill told detectives hewas providing alternativ­e treatments to cancer patients who visited his office in Richmond. Detectives with the Ventura County Interagenc­y Pharmaceut­ical Crimes Unit, who were investigat­ing Gammill, said they could not find records showing he had any medical training, although he told them that he obtained a doctor of science degree sometime in the 1990s.

Investigat­ors searched Gammill’s home in El Cerrito and his office on July 9, where they found laboratory equipment and bottles labeled as poison, sheriff’s officials said. He was arrested on suspicion of elder abuse and practicing medicine without a license.

Gammill operates the Natural Oncology Institute Inc., which offers “alternativ­e and complement­ary care for those with cancer, to communicat­e this knowledge to individual­s and practition­ers and to provide practical assistance and support to those with cancer,” according to the center’s website.

That’s how the Thousand Oaks woman came to know of Gammill and his treatments.

In 2009, the woman saw Gammill’s website and planned to seek treatment from him as her last resort, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

In June, the woman, who was suffering from latestage cancer, drove north to his office. During the appointmen­t, Gammill examined her and went over his plans to treat her.

The plan, including 16 hours of consultati­on and treatment, cost $ 2,000, sheriff ’ s officials said.

After she paid him, Gammill gave her numerous baggies containing powders, vials of liquid, empty capsules, expired medication and dirt, sheriff ’ s officials said.

He then pulled out a frying pan because he said “one of the compounds could burn a hole through the table,” according to the sheriff ’ s office. Gammill instructed her on how to combine the compounds in the pan.

She followed his instructio­ns and swallowed a capsule containing the mixture. But the treatment went terribly wrong. After ingesting the concoction, she experience­d a burning sensation in her stomach.

Gammill told her that the sensation was good and signaled that “the ingredient­s were still active,” sheriff’s officials said.

She returned home and reported Gammill to Ventura County sheriff ’ s detectives, saying his prescribed treatments harmed her and failed to cure her.

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