Dr. Christine Daniel (photo : Hans Gutknech, Los Angeles Daily News)
A Southern California doctor and ordained Pentecostal minister who hawked a fake cure for cancer on the Trinity Broadcast Network was sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to forfeit more than $1.2 million.
Dr. Christine Daniel pitched her witch’s brew of suntan lotion and beef flavoring, which she promoted as the herbal product C-Extract, on the Costa Mesa-based religious network, online and at her Sonrise wellness center in Mission Hills. She claimed a 60% to 80% success rate at curing or reversing advanced forms of cancer, as well as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and hepatitis.
Daniel, a 58-year-old native of Nigeria who earned a medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine, was found guilty in 2011 of wire fraud, tax evasion and witness tampering. She charged dozens of terminally-ill patients up to $150,000 for treatments but cured no one.
Friends and family members of victims described for the court how Daniel would discourage her patients from seeking more conventional treatment or taking pain medication that would interfere with her herbal remedy. Evidence presented at trial showed that many of her patients died within three to six months of beginning her health regimen.
Daniel’s victims came to her from around the country and the world. Paula Middlebrooks’ story was typical of the many tales told in court by friends and relatives of the dead. As told by the Associated Press, Middlebrooks came from Georgia for treatment of terminal breast cancer and paid $60,000 over five months. Daniel eventually pronounced her cured and threw her a party. Middlebrooks returned home and died shortly thereafter.
Closer to home, Daniel treated the dying wife of Bishop George McKinney, founder and senior pastor at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in San Diego. McKinney paid Daniel more than $100,000 in 2004 for herbs and treatment. She died in June of that year.
Daniels used to have a website that touted her treatments and, although it has been taken down in recent years, can still be viewed through the miracle of the Wayback Machine. In 2007, she was touting three books she wrote, including one that ridicules the “hilarious evolution theory from a medical doctor’s point of view.” Another “covers some of the miracles in my medical practice, including a dead child raised from the dead through prayer.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph O. Johns told the Los Angeles Times at the time of her conviction that Daniel “stepped into the breach and took everything they had, including their time. Instead of spending their final days with their families, they spent it in some flea-ridden motel drinking her foul treatment.”