Doctor in Cancer Potion Fraud Receives 4-Year Term

Times Staff Writer

Dr. Bruce Halstead, a physician convicted of selling cancer patients a substance that was 99.4% water, lost his chance for leniency Friday when a judge decided that he had not made a “vigorous” effort to sell his clinic and was continuing to portray himself as a victim of a medical conspiracy.

“The court is unhappy with the response it has gotten to its openly voiced concerns about Dr. Halstead’s conduct,” said Pasadena Superior Court Judge Marvin D. Rowen in ordering the physician to serve a four-year prison term.

Halstead, who was convicted last Oct. 3 of 24 counts of cancer fraud and grand theft for selling the potion, ADS, to 10 patients, remains free on $100,000 bail pending an appeal.

According to testimony during his trial, ADS contains a brownish sludge made up primarily of coliform bacteria.


Prosecutors have said Halstead may have given ADS to as many as 100 patients over a six-month period in 1983.

Rowen had imposed the prison sentence last March 20, but the judge gave Halstead, 66, an opportunity to curtail it by demonstrating that he had relinquished his medical license, sold or closed his Loma Linda clinic, dropped all medical activities, including his position as head of the World Life Research Institute, and given up the title of “doctor.”

At Friday’s hearing, however, Deputy Dist. Atty. Hyatt Seligman, who prosecuted Halstead, showed the judge an advertisement Halstead had placed in the May, 1986, issue of the Townsend Letter, which describes itself as “An Informal Newsletter for Doctors Communicating to Doctors.”

In the ad, Halstead sought to hire a “holistic health physician” and asked applicants to contact “Bruce W. Halstead M.D.” or write to the World Life Research Institute, based in his Colton home.


Halstead’s attorney, Judd C. Iversen, told the judge the ad had been placed last February, before his client was sentenced, but Rowen said it should have been canceled and replaced with an ad to sell the clinic.

The judge also expressed dismay about Halstead’s “continuing and unhappy attitude,” as conveyed in an article in the current issue of Freedom magazine, published by the Church of Scientology. The article, which quotes Halstead and Iversen, is titled, “Respected M.D. Targeted by Medical Gestapo.”

“The thrust of the article . . . is that Dr. Halstead is the victim of Gestapo storm-trooper tactics and that he and people like him have been singled out for prosecution not because of their political acts . . . but because of their views,” Rowen said.

During the hearing, Iversen told the judge that Halstead had sought to have the state Board of Medical Quality Assurance revoke his medical license but that the process had been delayed because of a lost file.


Now that final sentence has been imposed, Seligman said outside the courtroom, the medical license is certain to be revoked.