In 2006, Arizona's homeopathic board examined the same charges and dismissed them.

Known as "Special K" in the club scene, ketamine is similar to PCP. It can cause hallucinations along with extreme detachment from reality. The homeopathic board concluded that Susser was not in the wrong to prescribe ketamine to fibromyalgia patients — even though it falls outside the conventional standard of care.

In an interview for this story, Susser calls ketamine the pain reliever of the future for patients with chronic pain.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration begs to differ. The FDA approves ketamine only as an anesthetic and veterinary tranquilizer.

Susser also says the details in the California Medical Board's paperwork are charges and not facts. He says they weren't proved and that he signed the agreements only to avoid court fees.

DR. ELLIOTT SCHMERLER

On January 9, 2007, a physician stood before Arizona's homeopathic board and told his personal story of redemption. Too bad it wasn't all true.

It had been five years since Dr. Elliott Schmerler pleaded guilty to felony tax fraud. According to IRS documents, Schmerler funneled more than $500,000 through a corporation in the Bahamas and then used the money for personal expenses. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison and stripped of his Nevada medical license.

Two of Schmerler's cosmetic surgery patients had poor results, and he paid out money in lawsuits to two others, according to his homeopathic application and records from the Nevada Medical Board.

By December 2006, Schmerler had served his time in prison and finished his probation for the tax fraud case. He wrote the IRS a check for $96,533 to settle the score. That month, the Nevada Medical Board issued Schmerler a restricted medical license that specifically banned him from performing cosmetic surgery in the state.

Because of his revocation and felony conviction, Schmerler could not perform cosmetic surgery as an M.D. in Arizona.

One month after Nevada issued him a restricted license, Schmerler was in Arizona, petitioning for his homeopathic license. Standing in the basement boardroom at the state building for regulatory boards, Schmerler told the board a big lie.

"Since our previous meeting, I was issued a new, unrestricted license by the Nevada Allopathic Medical Board," he said.

None of the board members mentioned that Schmerler's printed license restricted him from ever performing any kind of cosmetic surgery.

Instead, the discussion focused on giving doctors second chances, particularly when their history involves felonies.

"I fully recognize we may take a little heat from the media because 'that homeopathic board is back to licensing felons again,'" then-board president Dr. Garry Gordon said as he made a motion to accept Schmerler's application. "But I take the full responsibility of recognizing everything I've seen and read about this doctor going forward."

The board members didn't ask Schmerler why Nevada banned him from cosmetic surgery. They didn't ask about the liposuction patient who ended up with an infected, oozing stomach or the breast augmentation patient who woke up with a lopsided chest — both documented in his own application and in Nevada Medical Board records.

Nobody asked Schmerler why the Nevada Medical Board disciplined him for "intent to deceive" or whether he would attempt to practice his specialties — liposuction and breast augmentation — in Arizona. Those procedures aren't allowed with a homeopathic license.

Instead, the board took Schmerler at his word. Gordon asked his fellow members to give Schmerler another chance at honesty.

"Physicians are really not well suited to digging ditches, but they don't have a lot of other things they're good at doing," he said. "They shouldn't be used car salesman. When I was in California, I was astonished how everyone who serves their time and does their probation is finally re-licensed."

Arizona law doesn't let the conventional board give M.D.'s such second chances. The only way Schmerler could bring his services to Arizona would be through the homeopathic board's loophole.

The board voted 5-0 to grant Schmerler a homeopathic medical license.

So how has Schmerler used his shot at redemption?

Schmerler advertises himself on the Web and at his Scottsdale office as an M.D. He is not a licensed M.D. in Arizona. Homeopathic board president Dr. Todd Rowe says it's illegal for a homeopathic doctor to advertise as an M.D. if the doctor isn't licensed in Arizona.

According to Schmerler's office staff at A Surgical Art: A Cosmetic Surgery Group in downtown Scottsdale, Schmerler doesn't specialize in homeopathic medicine. He specializes in cosmetic surgeries — also illegal because his homeopathic license limits him to minor surgery.

A call to Schmerler's office confirms he specifically performs tummy tucks, breast augmentations, liposuctions, and facelifts, none of which is minor and none of which is legal to perform with only a homeopathic license.

There's no evidence Schmerler has harmed anyone in the year he's practiced here. But it's clear that he walked right through the homeopathic loophole to perform cosmetic surgery — the very thing he's banned from practicing in his home state of Nevada, and the very thing Arizona's conventional medical boards are designed to regulate.

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11 comments
Mrs. Arpaio
Mrs. Arpaio

I wish Joe Arpaio would make an appointment with one of these "doctors", heck I will even pay the bill.

kingarthurusa
kingarthurusa

I stayed at Cousens's place. It was cold,and not a place to fast or in my opinion to stay. A few people complained. I went there after reading his book sand meeting Cousens to write about positive points on the place Go to tripadvisor The disillusioned do not complain because of their shame and embarrassment. The locals called it the bush of death. They told me the story of the unfortunate Charles Levy. Now the the Phoenix Times have published it, the facts are true.A Spiritual welcome can cost money as well as health. People can be vulnerable when ill and certain health centers can easily pray on the weak.

SandyB
SandyB

SandyB says: Being from where the doctor used to live in Incline Village, Nevada and coming across this article makes my stomach turn.Apparently Arizona's Board of Medical Examiners can't even use a computer. A simple google on just the name ELLIOTT SCHMERLER would bring up enough information to ban him from having a license for any kind of 'practice'.In Incline here, he mamed so many of his patients by doing invasive surgeries of which he is not even legally trained to do. There are several eyebrow lift mistakes with huge scars and many of his patients died or almost died because of his malpractice. Elliott Schmerler WAS a family practitioner. He went to a couple of conferences where they sold the laser cosmetic surgery machines and bought one. Then he brought in Dr Morton Reza Mazaheri,http://www.healthgrades.com/di...(who did Betty Fords face in Palm Springs) and used Dr Mzaheri's CA license number to perform invasive surgeries. They both committed negligence on many, many patients- together and separately. Mr Schmerler had 6 counts of malpractice, 6 counts of tax fraud and 6 counts of moral turpitude on his patients, all at once in 2001. It was in our Bonanza paper.It's very easy to google their history. They have both lost their licenses. Mr Schmerler lost all 4 of his licenses and any reciprocity in other states, according to the articles written by staff that attended his senticing to prison in Federal Court in Reno Oct 31, 2002.

If you need more info on this guy, contact archives in both the 'Reno Gazette' and Incline newspaper the 'Bonanza', or just simply google Elliott Schmerler and scroll through the many pages of convictions and court appearances.

Citizen Deux
Citizen Deux

Interesting and powerful article. As a state which permits all manner of "alternaitve" practices and beliefs, this is one whihc has the power (and has) to harm the public. There is no need for a separate board to regulate homeopathic doctors. Setting aside the unproven science behind the pseudo-religious homeopathy itself, there are too many other aspects left to potentially dangerous, untrained individuals to practice on an unsuspecting public.

Many consumers do not realize that complementary and alternative medicine is often in that category because there is no science to support its efficacy! It is understandable for people to seek out treatment to provide relief from chronic ills, untreatable by conventional medicine, but it is the responsibility of the state to make sure those "secondary" paths are not fraught with peril from fraudulent practicioners.

I think you did not go far enough in this article.

Marcy
Marcy

Homopathetic "doctors" are one big step below chiroquacks on the big scale of medicine.

You might as well visit a witch doctor.

Lauren
Lauren

I'm not going to argue your statement about those doctors you mentioned becoming Homeopathic doctors in Arizona because I have no facts. Speaking of facts, however, your "impression" of homeopathy is completely incorrect. Homeopathic medicine does not believe in injecting people with pollen, etc. It's disappointing that you didn't do your research on it before writing the article. Get your facts straight!

AZ Mom
AZ Mom

No one condones professional misconduct by doctors but I agree with #1, it is long overdue to cover the professional misconduct by lawyers, prosecutorial misconduct by prosecutors in the County Attorney's office and others who in law enforcement, legal, judicial and prison systems, who destroy lives, families and children with reckless abandon and they do it without a conscience or even looking back -- as they "move on" to the next political career move! We want to hear about these stories and ruined lives.

selly
selly

Seems the medicine and technology are becoming more and more advanced. Not sure if any doctor can cure HIV or AIDS. I heard that bisexuals or gays are easily infected with that. But I have some bisexual friends on the site BiLoves, they told me they haven't been like that since there are some experts like Beth to guide them about that.

HOW ABOUT THE LAWYERS NEXT?
HOW ABOUT THE LAWYERS NEXT?

This article brings to mind --- Do us a public service with a series on lawyers and the damage they have done to thousands of lives and families, women and children. Lawyers destroy lives, too, by not doing their job, as more and more people get thrown into Arizona prisons or are coerced into pleas, losing their right to vote and have a voice, or get a job. The "Pew Prison Report - 1 in 100 adults in Prison", people sitting in jails and prisons in harsh and inhumane conditions. A blind eye is turned on this destruction of life and harm to our society. All those sitting in prison had lawyers.

It's time the lawyers were held to the same standards as a doctor or nurse, and not protected by immunity and Bar associations that do nothing. At least the medical boards take immediate action.

Now that you are exposing the medical professionals for their failures. We hope you do an in depth series on the damage the lawyers, both prosecutors and defense, have caused to the thousands of destroyed lives, families, women, children and the future of our society, as they "move on" to become our judges, elected officials and legislators, writing policies that affect us all.

Those living in the State of Arizona are currently paying a huge price in both in human misery and tax dollars for the damage of a broken legal system that no one is trying to fix. Lawyers here just keep collecting the huge fees, with no accountability. No insurance coverage for the people. Lawyers, with many bar complaints, are still seen in the courtrooms, year after year, still destroying lives. This a serious issue that needs to have sunlight shine harshly on the bad lawyers destroying lives daily. Let's hear those stories!

 
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