Friday, August 31, 2012

Sheriff: South Carolina man stole doctor's ID, saw 500 patients

A man stole a physician's identity and pretended to be a doctor for a year in South Carolina, and now investigators are combing through medical records to see whether he harmed any of the hundreds of patients he treated, authorities said.
Ernest Addo of Austell, Ga., is charged with unlawful practice of medicine and obtaining goods under false pretense, authorities said.
Addo doesn't have a medical license in the U.S. But he assumed a doctor friend's identity, getting a driver's license and presenting the massive amount of paperwork needed to prove he was a doctor. The documents were given to him by the friend in hopes they could open a medical clinic together when the real doctor returned from a yearlong trip to Ghana, Lexington County Sheriff James Metts said.
The real doctor, Arthur Kennedy, said he is embarrassed and devastated by what his friend did.
Addo did have some medical training, and acted enough like a doctor not to raise any serious suspicion beyond one nurse — interviewed after Addo's Aug. 24, arrest — who wondered why he consulted when she questioned his treatment plan, Metts said.
The motive appears to be greed, the sheriff said. Court documents show Addo has a history of financial trouble.
Records obtained by the Associated Press show in the past 20 years, at least two dozen liens have been filed against Addo for around $200,000, including unpaid rent, credit card bills, student loans and taxes. Addo has declared bankruptcy twice.
After Addo's arrest last week at his Georgia home, officers found fake IDs and other documents, and Metts said it appears Addo might have tried to fake his way through other lucrative careers, too. The sheriff wouldn't specify which ones.
"He seems to be a professional con guy," Metts said.
Addo, 48, has been jailed in Cobb County, Ga., since his arrest, and neither the sheriff nor jail officials knew if he had an attorney. Addo is refusing to talk to authorities, and both his home phone and cellphone have been disconnected.
Addo faces more than a decade in prison for his current charges, but he could end up in even more trouble. Metts said his investigators are reviewing the medical records of more than 500 patients Addo saw while at four Columbia-area senior centers and a rehabilitation center owned by Agape Senior Primary Care.
Metts said some of those patients died. He said more charges could follow if any of those deaths were linked to Addo's actions.
Addo was hired as a general practitioner and provided the kind of exams patients would receive during a visit to the family doctor. Authorities said he also wrote prescriptions, including some for himself.

Sheriff: South Carolina man stole doctor's ID, saw 500 patients | The Detroit News |