06 July 2018

Fake Health Qualifications

A former Navy officer has pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court to two charges  of fraud, after posing as a paramedic for more than five years. He initially faced 133 charges regarding administration of a restricted drugs, three charges regarding unlawful possession of controlled drugs and two charges of obtaining restricted drugs.

Calvin Jordan Wahlberg is reported as  having collected over $550,000 in wages on the basis that he was a qualified paramedic.  He was initially hired for a role for which he was qualified. He subsequently  worked in a position for which he lacked (but invented paperwork indicating that he had) the required qualifications.

His legal representative reportedly stated that Wahlberg would not have secured the job without the qualification: he accordingly falsified his certification (at least some of which was found during a search of his residence).

During the period he served as a supervisor for correctly qualified medical staff and administered over 130 influenza shots (restricted drugs). In 2009 Wahlberg had faked certificates about qualifications and thus authority.  That fraud was uncovered in 2015. Wahlberg appears to have unsuccessfully sought to apply as a member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Paramedics when inconsistencies were identified.

His counsel argued that  Wahlberg was not a 'deranged fantasist' and was unlikely to offend again.
It’s someone who left school, went into the Navy and had to leave in circumstances that were not his choosing, made stupid mistakes still as quite a young person and was working in a field having made false statements and continued on.
Meanwhile The Age reports  that Raffaele di Paolo, having masqueraded as a doctor and fertility specialist for over 10 years, has been belatedly prosecuted and convicted in the County Court, with a prison sentence of nine and a half years. On indictment he pleased not guilty to all charges, claiming he never performed medical procedures or inserted ultrasound probes into women and that he advertised himself as a homeopath rather than a registered doctor.

In his bio for a 2014 'bioregulatory medicine' conference under the auspices of the Australian Society for BioRegulatory Medicine (ASBRM) - a scientific society aimed at promoting and sharing education in the areas of Homotoxicology, Homoeopathy and Naturopathy' and formerly the Australian Association of Homotoxicology (AAOH) - Di Paolo was described as a fertility specialist.
"Raffaele Di Paolo MD, Ph.D [with] experience in achieving better than normal implantation rates for IVF using an integrated approach with Bioregulatory medicines. ... Italian-born Dr Di Paolo completed his undergrad studies in Australia. Post grad studies in philosophy and social sciences at La Sorbonne (Paris) embraced his passion for homeopathy. He returned to Australia in 2000 where he now applies bioregulatory medicine to non-obstructive infertility.
The conviction reflected 51 offences between 2004 and 2014, with charges including obtaining property by deception, sexual penetration by fraud and common assault. Di Paolo had no tertiary qualification but claimed to be a qualified IVF specialist who was 'disillusioned' with the IVF sector and  had worked at Monash IVF or Melbourne IVF. the Court heard that he took blood samples from women, carried out internal ultrasounds and purported inseminations. He injected people with unknown homeopathic substances that he claimed had been imported from Germany.

Stuart J rejected the defence's argument that di Paolo's culpability was reduced by mental illness (including a personality disorder and 'reactive depression'  experienced since 2015) -
You acted with deliberation and thought. You did it without regard for the effects on these women and men.
Di Paolo apparently acquired forged qualifications in the 1990s purporting that he was qualified as a medical practitioner, an obstetrician and a gynaecologist. That documentation was used during an investigation of corruption in Italy's medical system. He was found guilty in a Rome court of passing himself off as a practitioner and fined. He returned to Australia, where he used forged documents purporting he was qualified in Italy. He also claimed a science degree from Monash University.

Di Paolo continued to practice despite coming to the attention of authorities in 2011. He was investigated by the state Health Services Commissioner (HSC)  between 2011 and 2013. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) started investigating in 2014. In March 2015 the Medical Board of Australia and AHPRA announced that legal action was being
taken against a man they allege is pretending to be a registered medical practitioner. The Board and AHPRA have filed charges in the Magistrates’ Court at Melbourne, alleging that Mr Raffaele Di Paolo (and/or his company, Artemedica) was ‘holding himself out’ as an obstetrician and /or gynaecologist, with expertise in IVF. 
After receiving a complaint, the Board and AHPRA are taking action against Mr Di Paolo to protect the public.
AHPRA has meanwhile had a victory in the Local Court of New South Wales against Mr David Citer. He  was fined $9,500 after being convicted of claiming to be a registered psychologist and providing information to an inspector that was false or misleading.

AHPRA alleged that Citer contravened the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law by ‘knowingly or recklessly’ using a title or word in an email that indicated he was authorised or qualified to practise as a psychologist. Citer has never held registration as a registered health practitioner or student under the National Law with any National Board.

 The charge followed complaints referred to AHPRA by the NSW Heath Care Complaints Commission, alleging that Citer had been holding himself out as a registered psychologist. Citer used the title ‘Specialist Child, Adolescent and Family Psychologist’ in emails to a registered psychologist regarding a mutual client. Citer allegedly provided an AHPRA inspector with a document containing information that he knew was false or misleading in a material detail, ie copies of emails altered so that the title ‘psychologist’ no longer appeared in his signature block.

 In February this year Citer entered guilty. He  was convicted in May, with a fine of $8000 on the first charge and $1500 on the second in addition to paying AHPRA's  legal costs of $5000.