Fake Cancer Doctor Arrested in California

In Northern California, an investigation by the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office and the Ventura County Interagency Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit resulted in the arrest of a man who reportedly targeted cancer patients with bogus treatments.

“Doctor Dirt Bag”? Cancer patient says fake doc charged $2,000 for dirt (CBS News):

The woman, who has late-stage cancer, reportedly told deputies she saw Gammill’s website and decided to seek his services, and the “faux doctor” allegedly gave her plastic baggies containing various powders, expired medication, and at least one bag of dirt.

He told her how to mix the compounds, and allegedly told her if it burned her stomach that was good, and meant it was working.

So he allegedly dismissed symptoms of further harm, telling the patient that it was actually an indication that they were getting better. Sadly this is not unusual in such cases.

According to Newsweek,

He operated a clinic that offered alternative cancer therapies for patients with late-stage forms of the disease who had run out of effective treatment options. Gammill was arrested on July 9 and is scheduled to appear in court in Ventura County on August 31.

The Contra Costa County Sheriff is looking for others who might have been affected by Gammill’s alleged practices, and encourages anyone who may have been a victim to contact them.

  7 comments for “Fake Cancer Doctor Arrested in California

  1. Bob Blaskiewicz
    July 21, 2015 at 10:01 PM

    Burzynski’s patients often believe getting worse is getting better. California is the only place where patients are being protected by authorities, as far as I can tell.

  2. July 21, 2015 at 10:55 PM

    “So he allegedly dismissed symptoms of further harm, telling the patient that it was actually an indication that they were getting better. Sadly this is not unusual in such cases.”

    That sounds eerily familiar. Type this into Google:

    relapse is part of

    and see if “recovery” isn’t suggested. This (“relapse is part of recovery”) is an actual slogan in most alcohol-and-drug treatment centers in the USA.

  3. jockmcdock
    July 22, 2015 at 10:19 AM

    I’ve never had to undergo drug or alcohol treatment, but is the “relapse” actually just withdrawal symptoms (cold turkey, DTs) or are the centres simply telling people they may fall off the wagon?

  4. Ryan
    July 22, 2015 at 11:53 PM

    Rehabs are simply telling people they may fall off the wagon, and that its normal (because it is) and it doesn’t mean their recovery is over. The other option is to stress a situation where even small slip ups are equated with total failure, which tends to lead to the immediate resumption of full blown addiction.

    Withdrawl is just the physical symptoms of stopping usage, its (relatively) short lived. Subsides when the physical addiction ceases. The rest of it is all basically pysch therapy to break the associated habits, compulsions, and base line mental health and lifestyle issues that drive a person to use in the first place. Absent the physical feedback loop of that physical addiction. The physical addiction itself is easyish to break. For example I’m quitting smoking right now, I’ve read it takes less than a week for nicotine addiction to clear your system. But I’m on my 3rd go round in a year and half on trying to get beyond the rest of it. Rapid detox programs exist to break the physical addiction and clear opiates from the system over night, but they’re kind of a crap shoot with out actual rehab after.

    Other than tobacco I’ve never been addicted to anything, and never been through a rehab. But I have friends and family who have, and family who’ve worked in rehab/detox facilities and ERs that run rapid detox and addiction intervention.

  5. Sk3ptic0
    July 26, 2015 at 4:25 PM

    The “bag of dirt” in this story rang a few bells in my head.
    My mother, may the FSM bless her, is one of the most credulous people on the planet. There is no fringe story or technique that she doesn’t at the very least entertain as true for a while, usually discounting them for reasons that have nothing to do with critical thinking but often just because they contradict some other delusion she has.

    In this case, I recall her telling me, a few years back, about these magical clay she was using for apparently almost anything. Could this be the “dirt” in this story?

    To be sure, clay contains a lot of microorganisms, minerals and potentially a lot of bugs, but my understanding is that this clay is “cleaned” so it would be just dirt at the end.

    I think I am going to do some research on this, not that I can use any debunking results I may find with my mother, she is still convinced that only alien technology could have helped the Egyptians build the pyramids, as oif space faring aliens could build spaceships, yet would be mystified by something as simple as an Arch.

  6. August 7, 2015 at 1:49 AM

    I’ve been wondering just exactly how to respond to this, and how much I can post about my “hobby horse” before testing the patience of Nathan and idoubtit, but …

    Ryan, if 12-step participation wasn’t a strongly urged part of treatment and a “suggested” part of the aftercare plan of the people you know, then congratulations, they dodged a bullet. (If it was, then why didn’t you mention it?) Treatment centers that aren’t 12-step based are growing but still in the minority in the USA. This article gives an idea of what addiction treatment is like for most people who go through it:


  7. September 10, 2015 at 3:35 AM

    Incidents of such sort should make us more selective about the doctor we choose to go to. You can read online doctor reviews and make sure that the professional you seek help from is authentic. If you notice anything shady, get their certification attested from the authorities.

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