July 16, 1976

In the Matter of the Complaint Against

UNITED AMERICAN MEDICAL COLLEGE
P. O. Box 3260 and P. O. Box 3806 and
4106 Saint Claude Avenue New Orleans, Louisiana 70117 and
at 401 Metairie Road Metairie, Louisiana 70005

P.S. Docket No. 4/172; Lussier, Edward F.

APPEARANCES FOR COMPLAINANT:
Daniel S. Greenberg, Esq.
Law Department
U. S. Postal Service Washington, D.C.

APPEARANCES FOR RESPONDENT:
Clyde P. Martin, Jr., Esq.
Raymond A. Milly, Esq.
Metairie, Louisiana

POSTAL SERVICE DECISION

This proceeding is on appeal by the United American Medical College, the Respondent herein, from an Initial Decision by Chief Administrative Law Judge William A. Duvall recommending the issuance of a mail stop order under 39 United States Code 3005. Respondent has taken two broad exceptions to the Initial Decision contending that it was based "upon the application of facts which were clearly erroneous" and "upon assumptions arrived at without substantial evidence." Both exceptions are disallowed for reasons hereafter given.

What Respondent is selling through the use of the United States mails is set forth in the following advertisement which was run in the August 1975 issue of "Popular Science" magazine:

MEDICAL SCHOOL. English Speaking. Accredited as incorporated college. Unique admissions. M.D. Degree awarded. Brochure and application; $1.00. Medical School, Box 3260 (B), New Orleans, LA 70177.

One who responds to this advertisement receives through the mails a brochure (Complainant's Exhibits C-4 and C-5) which has to be read in its entirety to be appreciated. It is reproduced in full and attached as Appendix A to this decision.

On the inside cover of the brochure it is footnoted that the United American Medical College is "Accredited by: World International Medical Association." Respondent's president, Dr. Weinberg, testified on direct examination that this "is a state authorized accrediting association in the state of Louisiana" (Tr. 102). He testified that the United American Medical College is "also unconditionally accredited by the American Coordinated Medical Society of California" which he described as a "competitor" of the American Medical Association. He further testified that "We are also accredited by the only Government-authorized accrediting association for correspondence colleges, and that is the American Council for the Accreditation of Correspondence Colleges" (Tr. 103). Dr. Weinberg's testimony on further examination by Government Counsel is especially illuminating with respect to these "accrediting" organizations (Tr. 104-107). 1/

The United American College is a one-man Louisiana corporation whose articles of incorporations how Dr. Lawrence Mitchel Weinberg as the "First director, incorporator, registered agent, Executive Board and secretary." An amendment thereto shows him as President and one Patty Toma as Secretary. Respondent operated out of a three-room apartment which doubled as living quarters for Dr. Weinberg.

Dr. Weinberg possesses a degree of "Doctor of Homeopathic Medicine" from the "South African Faculty of Homeopathic Medicine" located in South Africa ( Respondent's Exhibits R-9 and 10) and a "Diploma of Naturopathy" from the "Anglo-American Institute of Drugless Therapy" in England (Respondent's Exhibit R-11). He also holds a degree of "Doctor of Chiropractic" from the Cleveland Chiropractic College in Los Angeles (Respondent's Exhibit 12) and a "Doctor of Medicine" degree from "Sequoia University," an Oklahoma corporation (Respondent's Exhibit R-8). 2/

Respondent introduced as its Exhibit R-7 a newspaper clipping from the September 10, 1975, issue of the Times-Picayune, of New Orleans in which a letter from Dr. Weinberg was reproduced. The purpose of introduction of the exhibit was to show that Dr. Weinberg specially disclaimed in that letter any accreditation by the American Medical Association for the United American Medical College. 3/ The letter further states that "I also hold a license in Maryland, in accordance with the provisions of Article 43, Sections 116 to 144C inclusive; for the practice of Medicine and Surgery." In response to Judge Duvall's questions, Dr. Weinberg maintained that he was licensed to practice medicine and surgery under the "homeopathic laws." 4/ An affidavit (Complainant's Exhibit C-10) of the Secretary of the Board of Medical Examiners for the State of Maryland attests that at no time has Lawrence Mitchel Weinberg every been licensed as a physician and surgeon by the Board of Medical Examiners.

Dr. Weinberg also testifed that the first diploma issued by Respondent was after incorporation on April 24, 1974, and that there never was a predecessor school in New York in 1965 (Tr. 145 and 146). In this connection the general definition section of his brochure headed "History" states that "The United American Medical College: (Formerly Falls Medical School); was organized in 1965, in Falls, New York." Dr. Weinberg explained that what that meant was that "the ideals, the principles, and the purposes, the paperwork were organized in 1965" at a time when he was 20 years old and was visiting Falls, New York, for a few weeks (Tr. 146-147).

Testimony of Mrs. Pauline Hardin, Assistant District Attorney for Orleans Parish, Louisiana, was to the effect that Dr. Weinberg made voluntary statements that he could not be licensed in the United States as a medical doctor and the diplomas he was selling would not qualify a holder for licensing in the United States (Tr. 32, 33). This point does not appear contested, Respondent contending instead that licensing is a matter completely apart from, and unrelated to, his activities.

A principal witness for the Government was Dr. Richard L. Egan of the American Medical Association whose primary assignment is to serve as Secretary of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. He explained in detail the importance to the graduate and to the public of accreditation by the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges. Among other things, a person who has graduated from other than an accredited medical school would not be permitted to take an examination for a license to practice medicine in the United States (Tr. 54).

The misrepresentations which were found by the Initial Decision to be made by Respondent and to be materially false need not be repeated here. They are quite adequately described with a clear analysis of the reasoning for the results reached in the Initial Decision.

The first argument raised by Respondent addresses itself to the issue of accreditation which Respondent contends should be resolved in its favor on the basis that the State of Louisiana issued Respondent a Certificate of Incorporation. The argument is totally without merit. Judge Duvall's disposition of this issue is the only one consistent with common sense and is fully supported by the applicable law and the record in this case.

In like nature Respondent takes issue with Judge Duvall's findings related to the charge in the complaint that Respondent falsely advertises itself as "an established medical school with adequate teaching facilities (e.g., classrooms, laboratories, etc.) for the purpose of providing instruction in the medical sciences." The testimony and credentials of Dr. Weinberg which Respondent refers to and relies upon its argument are so far removed from anything a reasonable person would expect in responding to the magazine advertisement that they confirm rather than refute Judge Duvall's evaluation and conclusions. In the same token, Respondent contends that there is no evidence that the impression would be given that the school will prepare the graduate to qualify for licensing as a medical doctor in the United States. Judge Duvall went into some detail stating the legal authority for interpretation of advertising representations. I am in complete agreement with his application thereof in this case.

I have reviewed the entire record in this case. Much more could be said but what has been said so far in conjunction with what has been said in the Initial Decision presents an adequate picture of this case. Respondent's exceptions to the Initial Decision on the basis that it was based "upon assumptions arrived at without substantial evidence" are disallowed and the Initial Decision is hereby affirmed.

In a case such as this the harm is not simply in the deception of readers who are attracted to the trick language of the spot advertisement, reproduced above, but in the ultimate effect upon the public which may ensue from the sale and use of Respondent's M.D. diplomas. This decision does not, and need not, rest upon this basis but I consider it worthy of supplemental comment because the end result of Respondent's scheme encourages a deception upon the public at large. For those who respond to the brochure, whether in recognition of the fact that Respondent runs a diploma mill, or worse perhaps, since that group could manufacture diplomas in other ways far cheaper than $1,000, those who in ignorance are led to pay for and use the diploma to satisfy themselves and their patients that they really are "M.Ds", this particular violation has implications of harm far surpassing those in the usual case. While many proceedings under the postal false representation statute involve false representation in medical "cures," serious enough in their individual context to everyone relying thereon, few involve deception of innocent third parties.

It cannot be questioned that it is essential to the national welfare that the public have the right to reasonably impose confidence in the American medical profession. The scheme which is the subject of these proceedings is disruptive of that right. It is no answer to say that the states have licensing requirements as prerequisites to the practice of medicine. One who lights a fuse in a crowd should not be heard to say that he whispered "dynamite" to the nearest bystander and that fire trucks and ambulances are available.

It is inconceivable to me that Dr. Weinberg does not know what he is about and although intent to deceive is not a necessary element of proof in a proceeding for a mail stop order under 39 U.S.C. 3005, this record leaves little doubt of it. Accordingly, I recommend in the strongest terms that the appropriate authorities, federal and state, consider whether violations of other statutes, either criminal or civil, have occurred, and take prompt action in connection therewith if warranted. A mail stop order, which is the extent of my authority under 39 U.S.C. 3005 is being issued contemporaneously with the issuance of this decision.


1/ "Q. Sir, who is the president of World International Medical Association?
A. I am president of that particular medical association.

Q. So you accredited your own college?
A. It is a world international association which I am the president of.

Q. So you used your own association to accredit your own college, is that correct?
A. That is right.

Q. Who is the president of American Coordinated Medical Society?
A. Dr. Roy Medigovich.

Q. What is your association with him?
A. He is an educational specialist in California. He holds five doctorate degrees and has forty years experience in the healing arts.

Q. I asked, what is your association with him? A. My association with him is consultation on educational matters.

Q. Now did Dr. Medigovich -- how do you spell that?
A. M E D I G O V I C H.

Q. Did Dr. Medigovich inspect your college when he gave you this accreditation?
A. Yes, he did.

Q. Would you tell us exactly what he looked at?
A. He reviewed the admission requirements of our medical college and determined that we have the highest admission requirements of any college in the United States.

Q. When you say 'admission requirements', are you referring to the catalogs which have been received in evidence as C-4 and C-5?
A. That is correct.

Q. Did he ask you about the faculty?
A. Yes, he did.

Q. And what did you tell him?
A. I told him that the admission requirements acknowledge three years of academic excellence.

Q. Excuse me, Mr. Weinberg. Did he ask you about you had any faculty other than yourself?
A. I told him that I was the president and founder of the college. Faculty members are appointed from time to time.

Q. Did he ask to interview any of these people?
A. Yes, he did.

Q. How many did he interview?
A. He interviewed me at the time.

Q. You were the only one that he interviewed?
A. Yes.

Q. Did he ask you whether you had any facilities for the teaching of medicine?
A. Yes, he did.

Q. Did you have any facilities at the time?
A. The facilities are the teaching of the books which we administer.

Q. Excuse me. The books what?
A. The books are the facilities of instruction.

Q. What books were those?
A. Those books are completely catered to the individual applicant.

Q. Do you have a title for any of these books?
A. Yes. We have the physician's Desk Reference, which is over four thousand pages of pharmacology. We also issue various homeopathic books and homeopathic medicine and a book on physical medicine.

Q. Is that the extent of the books that you require?
A. In some cases.

Q. And in other cases?
A. In other cases, if the individual has had twenty years experience as a physician we do not send him any books.

Q. I see. Now the American Council of Accreditation of Correspondence Councils (sic): who is the president of that?
A. I am the president of that accrediting agency.

Q. So again, you accredit your own college?
A. Yes.

Q. Tell me, do you -- back to the American Coordinating Medical Society -- do you have any association with them as an official or a director or an advisor?
A. He is an educational consultant --

Q. Excuse me. Do you have any association -- A. As I mentioned, educational consultation.

Q. In other words, you consult with Dr. Medigovich?
A. Yes.

Q. Do you pass on any accreditations given by this agency?
A. Do I what?

Q. Do you, in any way, pass on or suggest the outcome of potential accreditations by this society?
A. No. That is left up to their discrimination."

2/ The M.D. degree from Sequoia is statedly based upon a transfer of 4400 class hours from the Cleveland Chiropractic College, the diploma from the Anglo-American Institute and "other studies required by this University."

3/ Respondent's brochure contained the statement that Dr. Weinberg was a "Member: Association of American Medical Colleges" (Complainant's Exhibit C-4) but this was replaced by the reference to being "accredited" by the World International Medical Association earlier discussed in this decision. The unusual circumstance of Dr. Weinberg's receiving a membership assessment from the AMA is covered in the Initial Decision at page 12 and reference is also made to a letter dated September 8, 1975, from the legal counsel to the Association of Medical Colleges objecting to the representation in the brochure. That problem was easily resolved, as Judge' Duvall's decision points out at page 13, by Dr. Weinberg simply forming his own accrediting association. The World International Medical Association was founded on December 11, 1975, after receipt of the letter from the American Association of Medical Colleges (Tr. 137).

4/ Whatever legal argument might exist for the proffered distinction is not apparent from a reading of the referenced Maryland statutes which appear to place licensing authority solely within the Board of Medical Examiners.

This page was posted on July 16, 2004.

Links to Recommended Companies