2 accused of false Alzheimer's diagnoses charged with fraud
By JOHN SEEWER Associated Press
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A former director of an Ohio memory-loss clinic accused by dozens of patients of falsely diagnosing them with Alzheimer’s disease has been indicted on federal fraud charges.
The U.S. Justice Department said Sherry-Ann Jenkins was not trained or licensed to provide any medical care but presented herself as a doctor and billed patients for unneeded treatments.
She and her husband, Dr. Oliver Jenkins, were indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Toledo on charges of conspiracy along with mail, wire and health care fraud.
The indictment did not directly accuse the couple of falsely diagnosing her patients, but more than 60 people filed lawsuits beginning in 2017 that said Sherry-Ann Jenkins lied and told them they had Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
The patients said they spent months undergoing treatment while planning out their final years, thinking they would die soon. Some quit their jobs or took one last special trip. One killed himself; others said they considered suicide.
Sherry-Ann Jenkins operated the Toledo Clinic Cognitive Center through the Toledo Clinic, a multi-specialty medical center, for slightly more than two years until 2016, according to court records.
She would diagnose and treat patients and order tests despite having no training or qualifications, the indictment said. She also billed patients for treatments that weren’t medically necessary, including memory exercises and using coconut oil to treat cognitive disorders, prosecutors said.
Her husband, a licensed doctor and a former partner in the Toledo Clinic, signed off on the tests and was listed as the referring physician on billing even though he was rarely at the clinic and never saw the patients, the indictment said.
Oliver Jenkins declined to comment on Thursday, referring questions to the couple’s attorney who also declined comment. The couple no longer lives in Ohio.
The patients who sued the couple and the clinic resolved the cases out of court, said attorney David Zoll. He would not comment on the indictment.
Nearly all of those diagnosed by Jenkins began seeing her after suffering traumatic brain injuries or worsening cognitive issues.
Don Tanner told The Associated Press in 2017 that he was sent to the clinic after suffering a severe brain injury in a fall. Dealing with the devastating diagnosis of Alzheimer’s became unbearable, he said.
“She gave me a death sentence,” said Tanner, who said he considered taking his own life. It wasn’t until after the clinic had closed that a new doctor told him there was no way he had Alzheimer’s.
Kay Taynor said she and her husband along with a couple of friends were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by Jenkins.
Her husband, Gary, fell into depression, and killed himself in their garage, she said in an interview three years ago. An autopsy did not show any signs of Alzheimer’s, she said.