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Man charged in fraud scheme to undergo mental health exam

A mental health examination was ordered Friday for Alfred Sapse, an 85-year-old Las Vegas man charged in a fraud scheme involving the use of experimental stem cell implant procedures.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Johnston ordered the evaluation at the request of Sapse’s defense lawyer, Richard Boulware.

Johnston also reset a hearing for
Nov. 22 on whether Sapse violated the terms of his pretrial release by posting articles on stem cell research and cancer treatment on the Internet.

Boulware would not say in court or afterward why he was questioning his client’s competency to face the criminal charges. He met privately at the bench in court to explain his reasons to Johnston.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Crane Pomerantz did not share Boulware’s opinion about Sapse, telling Johnston, “This is someone who is consumed by greed and is a liar.”

Johnston instructed Sapse, who is free on his own recognizance, not to go online over the next four weeks while his competency was being examined.

Earlier this month, Henderson pediatrician Ralph Conti, 50, was charged in the stem cell case. Sapse, who was first indicted in July 2010, has denied the allegations against him.

According to a new, superseding indictment, the scheme began around January 2005.

“By misrepresenting his credentials, the nature of his treatment, the source of his ‘stem cells,’ and the adverse effects suffered by previous patients, defendant Sapse convinced chronically ill patients to undergo experimental implant procedures, many of which were performed by defendant Conti, and convinced investors to pay him large amounts of money without knowing the short- or long-term effects of the implant procedures he was promoting,” the indictment alleges.

Sapse hired Conti in the fall of 2005 and caused him to implant placental tissue in the abdomen of sick patients, the indictment alleges. Conti, who had no prior stem cell training, performed the procedure on about 34 patients in 2006, authorities have alleged.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135.

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