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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

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    Release No. 07-038

    March 8, 2007


    Los Angeles, CA - The California Osteopathic Medical Board has suspended the license of a physician who failed to repay his student loans and then obstructed collection efforts by federal authorities by providing false statements about his financial condition.

    In a disciplinary order that became final last month, the Medical Board suspended the license of Herman Benjamin Bell, 59, a physician from the Central Valley city of Delano.

    While attending the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in the mid-1980s, Bell obtained two federal health education assistance loans. But Bell defaulted on the loans, and in July 1991 the United States Attorney's Office filed a lawsuit in an attempt to collect on the debt. In 1991, a federal judge in Los Angeles ordered Bell to pay $412,871.84. By January 2005, as a result of penalties and interest, the balance of the outstanding debt rose to $949,518.54.

    In May 2006, the California Attorney General commenced a proceeding before the Osteopathic Medical Board of California. The state charged that Bell's failure to pay the student loan debt and obstruction of the government's collection efforts constituted unprofessional conduct. In November, Bell agreed to a settlement in which he agreed to a license suspension and to repay the student loan debt ordered by the court.

    This is the first time that California authorities have prosecuted a medical doctor for unprofessional conduct for failing to repay a student loan.

    The matter against Bell is result of a collaborative effort between the United States Attorney's Office and the California Attorney General.


    Release No. 07-038
    Return to the 2007 Press Release Index