Trial begins for Utah chiropractor accused of bilking the elderly
In a flurry of papers, instructions, medical advice and fleeting hope, several elderly patients said the West Jordan chiropractor they trusted to take care of them instead collected their financial information and defrauded them of hundreds and thousands of dollars.
Their stories were all similar: Elderly patients suffering from diabetes or thyroid conditions who wanted a cure, who wanted to believe that Brandon Babcock, 38, could help.
"When you’re old and you’re poor and you’re desperate, you’ll do anything if you think it might help," said Elsie Breault, 77. "I saw [Babcock’s] ad on television. It said he could stop diabetes. That he would talk things over with you and it would be free."
Babcock’s five-day trial began Monday.
He is charged in 3rd District Court with 10 counts of exploitation of a vulnerable adult, a third-degree felony, along with communications fraud, a second-degree felony. He faces prison time if he’s found guilty of any of the charges.
Babcock appeared in court wearing a white collared shirt and pink tie and sat quietly as his former patients — who ranged in age from 61 to 84 — took the stand to testify.
Consistent in their testimony was the hope, confusion and fear they felt in turning to Babcock to help with their medical maladies.
According to charging documents, potential patients were initially treated to a free gourmet dinner where they were shown video testimonials and given information about the chiropractor’s "diabetes breakthrough."
When they expressed interest in the program, some said, Babcock and his staff duped them into signing up for credit without their knowledge or consent. Others said Babcock refused to refund their money despite a 30-day opt-out guarantee and a promise for 100 percent satisfaction.
"How much did that free consultation end up costing you?" the prosecutor asked Breault.
"Five hundred dollars."
Throughout Monday’s testimony, witnesses referred to Babcock as "the doctor." Several told police they were never made aware of the fact that Babcock was, instead, a chiropractor.
The scheme hinged on tricking people into signing papers that established lines of credit with Chase Health Advance and then maxing out the $6,000 limit when patients tried to withdraw from Babcock’s services, according to testimony.
"I told him that he was clearly taking advantage of the elderly and I said, ‘I hope you feel OK about what you’re doing,’ " testified Brenda Tuttle, whose mother died since she lost money to Babcock. "And he turned to me and said, ‘I feel fine about it.’ "
Several of the former patients were not allowed to cancel the credit line because it was in Babcock’s name, according Dan Briggs, an investigator with the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL).
Chase Health Advance employees told Briggs they eventually repaid nearly half a million dollars to people who claimed they were bilked by Babcock.
West Jordan City revoked Babcock’s business license in August 2012 after he was formally charged, and according to DOPL, Babcock’s chiropractic license has been suspended.
But that hasn’t stopped Babcock from leading seminars throughout the country in hotels from Idaho to Florida, where he touts a nutritional program to reverse Type II diabetes. That’s according to a report filed by police in Chandler, a suburb of Tempe, Ariz., who cited Babcock on May 18 for selling supplements without a city permit.