3 arrested on stem cell charges
A fourth suspect remained at large, the FBI said in a release posted on its Web site.
The suspects in custody were identified as Francisco Morales, 52, of Brownsville, Texas; Alberto Ramon, 48, of Del Rio, Texas; and Vincent Dammai, 40, of Mount Pleasant, S.C. Morales was arrested Dec. 22, while Ramon and Dammai were arrested Tuesday.
The FBI said an arrest warrant had been issued for Lawrence Stowe, 58, of Dallas, who remained at large.
"This investigation identified a scheme whereby the suffering and hopes of victims in extreme medical need were used and manipulated for personal profit," FBI Special Agent in Charge Cory Nelson said. "The predatory and opportunistic nature of the crimes alleged in this indictment mirrors images from science fiction."
Federal authorities allege the four conspired to commit mail fraud and unlawfully distributed stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood. Morales and the others are accused of manufacturing, distributing and using stems cells produced from umbilical cord blood to perform procedures not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to treat people who have cancer, amytrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases.
FDA approval is required before stem cells can be marketed to the public and used to treat incurable diseases. The FDA has not determined stem cells are safe and effective in treating these diseases.
The indictment alleges that from 2007 to 2010 Morales falsely portrayed himself as a doctor who operated a medical clinic named Rio Valley Medical Clinic in Brownsville. He allegedly would meet patients in the United States and then travel to Mexico to perform the stem cell procedures.
Stowe allegedly marketed, promoted and sold stem cells along with other drug and biological products that don't have FDA approval for the treatment of cancer, ALS, MS and Parkinson's disease. Stowe ran The Stowe Foundation and Stowe Biotherapy Inc.
Ramon, a licensed midwife who operated The Maternity Care Clinic in Del Rio, allegedly obtained umbilical cord blood from birth mothers who were his patients and sold it to Global Laboratories. The Scottsdale, Ariz., company then allegedly sold the tissue to Dammai, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine in Charleston, who allegedly created stem cells later sold by Global Laboratories.
Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/12/28/3-arrested-on-stem-cell-charges/UPI-21691325130464/#ixzz1hx1vSyiz