A bad trip through the U.S. legal system got even worse this week for former Valley Center naturopath Robert Oldham Young.
Author of the well-known “pH Miracle” books, and philosophy, Young already was placed in prison Feb. 3. following being found guilty of two charges of practicing medicine without a license.
However a hung jury, after deliberating two weeks, found him innocent of one charge of practicing medicine without a license and didn’t convict him of six fraud and grand theft charges. Jury members voted 11-1 to convict on the two medical charges but deadlocked 8-4 on fraud charges.
Prosecutors said they would retry Young, 64, on the six fraud charges. “We have victims who are entitled to get verdicts,” Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas said after refiling charges.
Young, even by his own account, had made millions over the years aiding patients, charging some terminally patients $50,000 each and even $120,000 to one patient, prosecutors said.
Not a medical doctor, armed with a controversial natural health degree from a now-defunct Alabama correspondence school, he gave international and national lecture tours, performed numerous consultations and owned the 46-acre Valley Center pH Miracle Center at 16390 Dia Del Sol that patients often visited for special treatment sessions.
Young had been out of jail on $100,000 bail earlier this year as his trial started and stopped several times before concluding. He even toured Europe during the last year, continuing to give large public lectures and conduct private consultations. With his convictions, however, his bail was increased to $700,000. His supporters have raised only $16,000 through an online crowdsourcing site for legal bills to date.
Young’s attorney, high-profile former San Diego District Attorney Paul Pfingst, told Vista Superior Court Judge Richard Whitney last week that Young was tapped out financially. A public defender now will represent him.
Trouble in legal city doesn’t stop there for Young, actually a personable and friendly guy, which may have been part of his charm. A former patient is suing him in civil court alleging fraud and negligence. The litigant, a woman with stage four cancer, said Young advised against conventional medical treatment offering his own services.
Also charged in the original pH Miracle complaint were Bennie Stephen Johnson, 63, listed as a medical doctor Young hired to help with patient care and Rocio “Rosie” Placencia, 32, a pH Miracle Center employee who allegedly lied to investigators and hid medical supplies in a shed at her Valley Center home. Charges were dropped against the pair late last year.
Young is best known for his book “The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health, ” which was listed at No. 75 on Amazon’s list of top 100 best-selling weight-loss books. The tome, which has sold millions, has been translated into at least 18 languages, according to Pfingst.
Not a medical doctor, Young received doctorate degrees from Clayton College of Natural Health, a non-accredited and now- defunct Alabama correspondence school. He went from a bachelors degree to masters to doctorate in eight months, according to Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas.
Prosecutors in their original 13-page complaint, said Young charged four terminally ill patients at least $50,000 each for treatment. one paid more than $120,0 Prosecution witnesses included family members of cancer patients who had gone to the center and subsequently died.
Pfingst said people sought help from Young specifically because he was a naturopathic practitioner and not a medical doctor. Young never said his technique would cure cancer, Pfingst said. Needles used for intravenous treatments were applied by licensed doctors and nurses, he said.