RAPID CITY, S.D. (CN) – A former dentist who was court-ordered to stop selling lasers that he claimed could cure 200 diseases – including cancer, AIDS, and diabetes – has been arrested on charges that he is still shipping the devices to customers.
In January of 2015, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken ordered Robert “Larry” Lytle to stop marketing and selling his “Qlasers” after the federal government sued him for violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by making unfounded claims about the devices. One such promise in his laser application guide said: “IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO HAVE CANCER WHEN YOU FOLLOW THIS PROTOCOL.”
Despite the injunction, an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Postal Inspectors revealed that Lytle was still shipping his lasers out to customers, who are often elderly or ill, and charging between $4,000 and $13,000 for them.
“As the indictment alleges, these individuals targeted vulnerable citizens for years, preying on weaknesses brought about by chronic illnesses and fear of death—all to enrich themselves, and even where the scheme entailed violating a direct court order to stop,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division said in a statement. “This prosecution further demonstrates the Department’s ongoing commitment to protecting older Americans from fraud and abuse.”
Lytle unknowingly shipped one of his lasers to an undercover postal inspector, exposing his ongoing violation of the court order.
Lytle was arrested over the weekend, along with Fredretta Eason, who lived with him and maintained a partnership interest in his business, and a distributor from Canada, Irina Kossovskaia, according to the 28-page criminal indictment filed last week.
The indictment lists 27 different business names under which Lytle and Kossovskaia sold the lasers since at least 2002.
The government claims that Lytle created false documents detailing how he sold his remaining lasers to a buyer in India when he had actually shipped 600 of them from South Dakota to a warehouse maintained by Kossovskaia in New York. He then concealed his earnings from the sale of the lasers to avoid paying restitution to previous customers.
Lytle also lied about his credentials, according to the idictment.
“Lytle, Kossovskaia, and others described Lytle in promotional material as a retired dentist and regularly referred to him as ‘Doctor’ or ‘Dr. Larry Lytle, D.D.S., Ph.D.’ in order to create the false impression that Lytle was especially knowledgeable, scientifically competent, credible, and authoritative, while omitting both that his ‘Ph.D.’ was not a legitimate academic decree [sic] and also that his license to practice dentistry had been permanently revoked by South Dakota for engaging in fraud and material deception,” the indictment claims.
“This indictment represents the government’s commitment to protecting consumers from unethical and predatory businesses,” U.S. Attorney Randolph J. Seiler of the District of South Dakota said in a statement. “In cases like this, prosecutorial measures are the only recourse when a business repeatedly demonstrates blatant disregard for the law, and potentially jeopardizes the health and safety of its consumers.”
Not only are Lytle’s claims about his cure-all lasers baseless, but using them to treat certain conditions could actually cause further harm, the government claims.
For example, civil proceedings against him in 2014 revealed that using the lasers directly on the eyes in accordance with instructions to treat macular degeneration could result in temporary or permanent blindness.
Lytle and Kossovskai have been charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, contempt, and obstruction of government proceedings. Eason was charged with criminal contempt.
Each count of mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, while the conspiracy and obstruction charges carry five-year maximum penalties.
Lytle is represented by Michael Wheeler with DeMersseman, Jensen, Tellinghuisen & Huffman out of Rapid City.
Wheeler did not respond to a Tuesday afternoon email requesting comment.