Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 | 3:38 p.m.
Two Las Vegas Valley men were convicted of conspiracy and fraud for scamming thousands of dollars out of chronically ill patients, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Dr. Ralph M. Conti, 51, of Henderson, was convicted of two counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud. Alfred T. Sapse, 86, of Las Vegas, was convicted of seven counts of mail fraud and 11 counts of wire fraud. Both were also found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.
U.S. Attorney for Nevada Daniel Bogden said in a news release Conti and Sapse scammed chronically ill patients suffering from such ailments as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy by claiming they could cure them with a stem cell implant procedure.
Bogden said Sapse, who claimed to be a retired foreign physician but is unlicensed in the U.S., persuaded patients to undergo a procedure that involved implanting placental tissue into their abdomen. Bogden said Sapse also persuaded investors to pay him large amounts of money, though none of the money was used to research the procedure.
Sapse then hired Conti, a pediatrician with no stem cell procedure experience, to operate. In one year, Conti operated on 34 patients in Las Vegas. The procedures led to infection in at least two patients and were unsuccessful, Bogden said.
Sapse and Conti continued to perform implantations despite failing to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration. In 2007, Sapse moved his scheme to Mexico and hired a Mexican physician to perform the procedure on approximately 100 patients in three years, Bogden said.
Bogden said Sapse received about $1 milion from patients and investors, and spent about $700,000 on personal expenditures and gambling. Conti received $60,000 from the procedures.
Bogden said they are scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 27. Both face up to five years in prison for each conspiracy count and up to 20 years for each fraud count. They could also fines of up to $250,000 for each count and must forfeit $913,748 in money or property.