A former doctor who pleaded guilty to giving fake vaccines to patients while practicing without a license will serve just over seven years in federal prison.
Stephen Turner, 51, pleaded guilty to five felony counts and, in addition to his jail time, was ordered to pay $138,510 in fines and restitution to his victims.
Turner was arrested at his Hayward home Feb. 15 following an investigation into his operation of two clinics in San Francisco’s Mission District that provided medical services to immigrants applying for permanent resident status.
He was accused of giving his patients saline injections instead of vaccinations, falsifying the results of blood tests — including HIV tests — he never conducted and pocketing a fee of $200 per visit for services that he never provided.
On March 23, Turner pleaded guilty 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, Assistant District Attorney Maxwell Peltz said.
Peltz, who helped prosecute the case, said Tuesday that he thought the sentence was appropriate. "There is some very serious conduct here. People went in to get vaccinations and they were not vaccinated. They went in to get blood tests and they were not tested," he said.
Herman Franck, Turner’s attorney, said Franck apologized to his victims in court Tuesday.
"His main thing is that he fully acknowledges he is guilty and what he did is wrong," Franck said of Turner.
Turner has been a licensed physician in the past, but he was placed on California Medical Board probation after he was convicted twice for indecent exposure. He surrendered his license in 1998 rather than complete the term of his probation. According to the District Attorney’s Office, Turner opened his first illegal San Francisco clinic in 1999.
Peltz said the Turner case had the benefit of putting the District Attorney’s Office in touch with San Francisco’s immigrant communities. "In a way this tragic event has given us an opportunity to reach out and talk to people who may not talk to law enforcement," he said.
Turner’s former patients can learn how to claim restitutions for their lost fees by visiting the district attorney’s Web site at http://www.sfdistrictattorney.org or by calling (800) 868-1933. Information will also be available on that line in the future regarding city-sponsored free tests and vaccines for Turner firstname.lastname@example.org