A woman who posed as a nurse alongside a doctor imposter who misled people into believing they needed infusions and injections of animal cells to treat Lyme disease was sentenced today to a year in county jail.
Jacqueline Smith, 57, pleaded guilty in November to practicing medicine without a license.
Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas said Smith inserted intravenous lines in patients who went to Kathleen Ann Helms for treatment at the BrightHouse Wellness Center in Encinitas.
Helms previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to practice medicine without a license and is awaiting sentencing.
Darvas told Judge Dwayne Moring that Helms, also 57, couldn't have carried out her illegal treatments without Smith's help.
"She (Smith) was instrumental in the harm the victims suffered," the prosecutor told the judge.
Smith said she was "truly, truly sorry" for her actions and quit working for Helms when she saw how she was treating patients.
"I would never harm anyone," Smith told the judge. "She (Helms) fooled a lot of people."
Moring told Smith not to work in the medical field during her three years on probation.
Darvas said the FBI opened an investigation after two people treated by Helms filed complaints with the California Medical Board, claiming Helms falsely represented herself as a doctor of naturopathy and an expert on Lyme disease.
According to an affidavit filed in the case, Helms diagnosed a patient with the inflammatory illness after looking at a sample of blood under a microscope, then prescribed a treatment plan that included shots of bovine stem cells from Germany.
Helms directed the patient to go to a Tijuana hospital to have a peripherally inserted central line put into one of her arms so Helms could give treatments intravenously. The patient agreed to pay $300 for the insertion of the line and $30,000 for the treatment Helms recommended, according to the affidavit.
The patient suffered multiple complications with the insertion of the line and had to return to Tijuana three times to make the line functional, according to the FBI.
The patient subsequently returned to Helms' office, where she was hooked to an IV and infused with four bags of dimethyl sulfoxide, an experimental medicinal solvent, and given what she was told were two stem-cell injections in the stomach.
The patient returned to Helms' office three more times and underwent a similar regime that included infusions and injections. On the evening of the last treatment, the woman became seriously ill at home and was taken to an emergency room and immediately placed in an intensive-care unit, according to the affidavit.
The patient initially was told she only had hours to live because her organs were shutting down, but ultimately was hospitalized for six weeks, then placed into a skilled nursing facility and later an assisted-living facility, according to the FBI.
A man diagnosed by Helms with Lyme disease was actually suffering from prostate cancer, Darvas said.
—City News Service