music in the park san jose

The San Benito County District Attorney’s Office charged a local
physician’s assistant with illegally practicing medicine without a
license Thursday after he gave medical advice on a local radio show
unlawfully.
Hollister – The San Benito County District Attorney’s Office charged a local physician’s assistant with illegally practicing medicine without a license Thursday after he gave medical advice on a local radio show unlawfully.

Jose Castillo, 52, caught the attention of the Department of Justice Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Abuse and San Benito County District Attorney’s Office after appearing on Hollister’s KMPG-Radio Bonita show in 2003.

Castillo, who was convicted of identity theft and forgery in 2003 for abusing the Medi-Cal system, appeared on the Spanish-language station several weeks after his conviction, purporting to be a doctor, said Araceli Flores, the lead investigator for the DOJ’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Abuse. Castillo did not serve any time in jail for the charges, she said.

When she learned Castillo was back on the radar committing illegal acts by allowing unsuspecting patients to believe he was an actual doctor, she began working with the District Attorney’s Office in investigating the new crime, she said.

The investigation, which lasted about two years, included a host of complex issues that both agencies worked in together on, said District Attorney John Sarsfield. He was finally charged with the felony crime, which holds a maximum prison sentence of three years and a $10,000 fine, Thursday, he said.

The charge resulted in Castillo surrendering his physician assistant’s license last month and stems from Castillo’s comments made on the Spanish-language radio program, Sarsfield said. During the program, Castillo led callers to believe he was a doctor and came close to offering diagnoses to some callers, he said.

Many patients believed Castillo was an actual doctor, partly because they were Mexican migrant workers and in Mexico anyone with medical training is often considered a “doctoro,” Flores said.

“First of all, you’re not in Mexico, you’re here, and that’s misleading people,” she said. “He was seeing predominately the Hispanic community and they saw him as a God. It was very sad because he’s not telling them what he’s doing.”

Castillo, who has been a practicing physician’s assistant in Hollister for about six years, treated patients at an office on Monterey Street called Clinica Medica since 2000, Flores said. Castillo was convicted of forgery and identity theft in 2003 in San Benito County after investigators discovered he was charging patients cash for services they could have had paid for through Medi-Cal.

“He was just making money off these poor people,” Flores said.

Besides Castillo’s unethical financial practices, he used an alternative form of treatment, as well, she said.

Instead of prescribing an antibiotic for a malady, Castillo would give his patients shots, she said. But Flores didn’t know what type of medicine he used.

The shots, which cost $20, made some children sick enough to go to the Hazel Hawkins Hospital Emergency Room. Castillo was has not been charged for giving the injections, however, one elderly man who visited Castillo complaining of chest pain was not examined thoroughly and died from a heart attack two days after seeing Castillo, Flores said. Castillo was not charged with a crime regarding the man’s death, but Flores said if the man had seen another doctor she believes the outcome could have been different.

“We’re very happy with the outcome because, thank God, I didn’t want to wait until more people started dying,” Flores said. “And this is someone who doesn’t see anything wrong with what he was doing.”

Working with the San Benito County District Attorney’s Office, investigators conducted a two-year investigation into Castillo for illegally practicing medicine. Castillo and the District Attorney’s Office entered into a plea agreement about two months ago, and Castillo surrendered his physician’s assistant license on April 14, Sarsfield said.

Castillo is expected to either enter a “no contest” or guilty plea during his formal arraignment on May 31 at the San Benito County Superior Court, Sarsfield said.

Erin Musgrave covers public safety for the Free Lance. Reach her at 637-5566, ext. 336 or [email protected]

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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