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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 24, 2015

“Green Cross” Hits Red Light As Owner Admits Fraudulent Use Of Doctor’s Name And License

Ex-Doctor Agrees To Close Down His Six San Diego Medical Marijuana Clinics

SAN DIEGO – Nelson Leone, the owner and operator of six San Diego-based medical marijuana clinics, pleaded guilty to identity theft in federal court today, admitting that he forged a doctor’s signature and fraudulently used that doctor’s name and license number in order to issue medical marijuana recommendations.

Leone’s six clinics were located throughout San Diego County in Pacific Beach, Mission Valley, Midway, and El Cajon. He advertised them under the name Green Cross Evaluations in The Reader and on the Internet. These advertisements made it clear that the clinics were set up to be “consumer friendly” with on- site ATM services, accommodations for walk-in patients, and a $25 “new” patient special. According to his website, Leone’s clinics were supposed to provide patients with access to a “licensed physician” that would evaluate them in his clinic for a medical condition.

Five of Leone’s six clinics, however, did not have a licensed medical doctor. Leone (who was stripped of his medical license in 1995) employed a licensed doctor at just one of the six clinics to meet with customers and issue medical marijuana recommendations. In the absence of a licensed physician who could validly evaluate patients, Leone issued medical marijuana recommendations to customers at the other five clinics under his sole doctor’s name and license number. These recommendations falsely certified that the customers were evaluated in the doctor’s office and suffered from a medical condition that “may benefit from the use of medical marijuana.”

U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy emphasized that every patient – regardless of whether they’re seeking medical marijuana or other prescription drugs – has the right to have a licensed medical professional advising them on matters that affect their health. “It is simply unacceptable to have someone forge a doctor’s signature for their own personal financial gain.”

As part of his plea, Leone agreed to shut down the six Green Cross Evaluations clinics.

Leone is scheduled to be sentenced on September 14, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge M. James Lorenz.


DEFENDANTS   Case Number: 15cr1650-L
Nelson Leone Age: 72 San Diego, California
 
CHARGES

Identity Theft – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1028(a)(7)
Maximum penalty: 5 years’ imprisonment and $250,000 fine

 
INVESTIGATING AGENCIES

Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations

Updated July 23, 2015