Bonita Man Who Posed As Doctor Sentenced, Fined

Kurt Donsbach Pleaded Guilty To Posing As Doctor, Providing Unapproved Supplements

A Bonita man who posed as a doctor and offered patients non-FDA-approved dietary supplements as alternative remedies for cancer, arthritis and other ailments was sentenced Friday to a year in jail and fined $60,000.

Kurt Walter Donsbach, 75, pleaded guilty last December to 13 felony charges, including practicing medicine without a license and selling misbranded drugs.

Judge Charles Rogers placed Donsbach on probation for 10 years and ordered the defendant not to hold himself out as a doctor, chiropractor or health practitioner.

Defense attorney Thomas Warwick told the judge Donsbach made some mistakes but otherwise helped a lot of people who were given little time to live by traditional doctors.

"This man made a difference in their lives," Warwick told the judge. "There were mistakes made, and we pleaded guilty to those mistakes. This man has done a lot of good."

Warwick said Donsbach had serious health problems -- including suffering a stroke and having high blood pressure -- which would be hard to treat in the county jail.

The attorney said Donsbach was resigned to the fact that he would "leave this Earth without helping another person."

Rogers said the case was not about alternative medicine but about how Donsbach broke the law.

The judge acknowledged that the defendant had thousands of followers and had helped many people and their loved ones.

But Rogers said Donsbach betrayed the very alternative medicine system that he promoted.

Even though he has no medical license in California, Donsbach hosted a radio show on the Internet -- "letstalkhealth.com" -- where he represented himself as a chiropractor and naturopathic doctor, authorities said.

Donsbach offered "alternative, natural and nutritional" remedies for conditions such as cancer and auto-immune disorders, according to authorities.

One woman injected herself with "neuropeptides" to treat arthritis after Donsbach told her it would "re-program" her body's T-cells. The patient paid thousands of dollars for the drugs and injected herself monthly for six years, causing severe bone density loss, Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas said.

At Donsbach's sentencing on Friday, Ramona Hale told of her father's last days and how he begged for treatment at Donsbach’s clinic in Mexico.

"My father stood up like a child, sobbing and he said, 'Please let me stay. I have money. Please let me stay. I want the medicine, please,'" said Hale.

Hale said her father gave Donsbach between $23,000 and $30,000 to treat his cancer with non-traditional and dangerous drugs.

Months later, Hale's father was near death.

"He looked up at me and his eyes welled with tears and softly said, 'Ramona, I made a really big mistake,'" said Hale. "My father and our family, like so many others, were…robbed of precious time."

Hale added, "I will not let the wickedness of what you represent to share a space in my mind or my heart."

Gisela Sallee, a former colleague, labeled Donsbach as a fraud who used calculated charm and premeditated actions to feed his insatiable greed.

"I hope to give perspective of what it was like to be an innocent, vulnerable and trusting co-worker, patient and friend who was deliberately deceived and dragged into his criminal enterprise," said Sallee.

Another victim spoke on Friday of what seemed like miraculous medicine that was doled out by Donsbach.

"I was not in very good shape, but after my first injection, I felt fabulous... for a couple of days," said Anita Soos.

It wasn't long, however, before Soos realized she was in trouble.

"About eight months after I started the injections, I started getting horrible migraine headaches," she said.

Soos said that lasted for six or seven years.

In another case, Donsbach claimed he treated pancreatic cancer successfully about 60 percent of the time and provided a supplement with nimesulide to a patient, authorities said.

Nimesulide, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, is not approved by the Federal Drug Administration for use in the United States, Darvas said.

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