Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed suit to shut down a reported fraudulent Alexander County treatment center operated by an unlicensed doctor who prescribes treatments, operates a facility for sick patients and professes to heal human illness. Madigan’s suit was filed in Alexander County Circuit Court.
The defendant allegedly trades on patients’ desperation by promising to cure their terminal illnesses and selling them “medical” equipment which has not been shown to be safe and effective. According to the lawsuit, the defendant also has refused to honor his money-back guarantees.
Madigan’s suit names as defendants Stephen Darden, PhD., of Cairo, IL, and his businesses, Darden Health Spa & Wellness Center Ltd., and Nu-Start Inc. Neither of Darden’s two entities is reportedly registered to do business in Illinois or elsewhere in the United States.
Madigan was joined in filing the case in Alexander County Circuit Court by Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Secretary Fernando Grillo and Department of Public Health Director Eric Whitaker. Following an emergency motion, Judge Stephen Spomer granted a temporary restraining order to shut down Darden’s businesses.
Promising to cure patients with cancer and other terminal illnesses, Darden allegedly runs a fraudulent health clinic, which his Web site describes as “…a modern, full service health clinic disguised as a luxurious vacation resort.” According to Madigan’s complaint, however, an ambulance nurse involved in moving a terminally ill cancer patient to a hospital described it as an old office building with mattresses placed directly on the floor. The nurse contacted Cairo Police, who contacted Madigan’s office.
“Some people steal money, some people steal property, but Steve Darden steals hope,” Madigan said. “Not only does he fail to help people who are ill, he actually puts them at risk with his toxic ‘cures.’ What he does is unethical and illegal, and we will stop him.”
Madigan, Grillo and Whitaker’s lawsuit charges Darden with multiple violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, Illinois Medical Practices Act and the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
Madigan said Darden does not have a valid license to practice medicine in Illinois, and therefore is not authorized to treat, prescribe treatment for or operate a treatment facility for patients in the state.
Madigan’s office also has received at least two complaints against Darden for the sale of “ozone production generators,” which he claims can cure cancer and parasitic infections. Darden allegedly advertised a money-back guarantee for the product. However, patients claimed that when the apparatus did not help them, he refused to return their money. The suit claims that Darden has advertised and sold the ozone distributors since at least October 2001.
The lawsuit alleges Darden operates a Web site, www.dardenhealthspa.com, through which he allegedly advertises and offers for sale treatments and medical services for terminally ill patients, including “Ozone and Electro Magnetic Therapies, Nutritional Supplementation, Modern Exercise Techniques, Acupuncture, Message (sic) therapy and of course the most advanced conventional medicine.”
Madigan, Grillo and Whitaker’s lawsuit seeks to permanently bar Darden from practicing medicine in Illinois. Additionally, the lawsuit seeks to assess penalties of $50,000 per violation of Illinois law and an additional $50,000 for each intentional violation of the law.
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