LAS VEGAS -- A well-known Henderson pediatrician found guilty last month of conspiracy and fraud is near death in a Las Vegas hospital tonight.
Dr. Ralph M. Conti underwent neck surgery earlier this week at Desert Springs Hospital when he had a seizure and slipped into a coma, according to sources. Conti is reportedly brain dead and the family has to decide if and when to end life support measures.
Conti and co-conspirator Alfred T Sapse, 86, were convicted Nov. 28 of conspiracy and fraud for taking thousands of dollars from chronically ill patients for a stem cell implant procedure that they were told might cure or provide relief for their diseases, including multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy, announced Daniel G. Bogden, U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada.
The doctors apparently did not even know if the treatments would work. As News 3's Amber Dixon tells us, he and another man took thousands of dollars from chronically ill patients.
Conti and Sapse, of Las Vegas, were each convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.
Conti also was convicted of two counts of mail fraud, and two counts of wire fraud. Sapse also was convicted of seven counts of mail fraud and 11 counts of wire fraud.
They face up to five years in prison on the conspiracy count and up to 20 years in prison on each fraud count, and fines of up to $250,000 on each count and must forfeit of money or property of up to $913,748.
Sentencings for both defendants were scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 27.
According to the superseding indictment and evidence introduced by the government at trial, from about January 2005 to current, Sapse, who purports to be a retired foreign physician but who has never been licensed to practice medicine in Nevada or any other state, convinced chronically ill patients to undergo experimental implant procedures and convinced investors to pay him large amounts of money without knowing the short- or long-term effects of the implant procedures he promoted.
The procedures involved the implantation of portions of placental tissue into the abdomen of the patients for the treatment of their diseases. Sapse allegedly targeted extremely sick patients, by claiming that his "proprietary" procedure was especially effective for patients with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and retinitis pigmentosa (a disease of the retina which can cause blindness.)