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Suspect posing as doctor made claims he could cure HIV, cancer

SAN DIEGO – A man posing as a doctor who claims to cure HIV and cancer is facing multiple felony counts, authorities say.

Keith Allen Barton, 50, has been charged with multiple felony counts of treating patients without a medical license, identity theft and grand theft. The defendant claimed to be a medical doctor and promised patients he could cure cancer and HIV.

Barton was arraigned Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court on five felony counts. He pleaded not guilty and faces up to 5 years and 8 months in state prison if convicted of all the charges.

“By posing as doctor and charging thousands of dollars for a phony cure, this defendant showed callous disregard for his victims and the medical field,” San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis said. “Our Consumer Unit works to hold individuals who pose as physicians accountable for their actions and the harm done to their victims.”

Barton called himself “Dr. Barton” and promised to cure a woman and her children of HIV. One of the children subsequently died as a result of not receiving effective treatment. The victim paid Barton $18,000 for the treatment. Barton is not a licensed medical doctor, osteopath or naturopath but shares his name with a real medical doctor who is licensed in California. Barton used the fact that only his middle name differed from the real Dr. Barton to create the impression that he was a licensed professional.

The District Attorney’s Consumer Unit is prosecuting Barton, who remains under investigation by the Medical Board of California and the District Attorney’s Office, which believes there may be more victims. He was arrested on Jan. 8. Anyone with information is asked to contact the District Attorney’s Office at 619-531-3507.

“This case is a reminder that consumers need to be particularly wary of unapproved ‘miracle’ cures, especially when they are offered by practitioners who run clinics south of the border,” Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas said.

In a similar criminal case prosecuted by the District Attorney this year, Kathleen Helms, a San Diego woman who posed as a doctor and offered patients non-FDA-approved DMSO infusions as alternative remedies for autoimmune disorders, pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing later this month. Last year, the Consumer Unit also prosecuted Kurt Walter Donsbach, 75, who pleaded guilty to 13 felony charges, including practicing medicine without a license and selling misbranded drugs.

Barton remains in custody on $100,000 bail. A readiness conference has been scheduled for Jan. 18 at 8:30 am in Department 29 and a preliminary hearing has been set for Jan. 23 at 8:15 am in Department 11.