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Countywide : Couple Sentenced in Vitamin Sales Scam

An Oxnard couple who claimed to be doctors while selling vitamins door-to-door will be required to pay more than $8,000 in restitution to Spanish-speaking county residents whom they promised to cure with their products, the district attorney’s office said.

Francisco Javier Gazca, 39, and his wife, Libertad Gazca, 27, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of practicing medicine without a license. Municipal Court Judge Ken W. Riley also sentenced them to serve 90 and 30 days in jail, respectively. Libertad Gazca’s sentence is shorter because she is expecting a baby in July, Deputy Dist. Atty. Marcia W. Strickland said.

From January to June, 1990, the Gazcas approached at least 35 Oxnard and Santa Paula residents, many of whom suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes, Strickland said. The residents were told to stop taking their regular medication and encouraged to buy vitamins and herbs for $365, Strickland said. The prepackaged vitamins were worth about $45, she said.

“The people thought they were essentially getting house calls by doctors,” Strickland said.

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The Gazcas had first hired young women to canvass the neighborhoods with health questionnaires to learn about the residents’ ailments.

“The victims would be amazed that they’d be able to diagnose their illnesses,” Strickland said. “It’s a pretty gross abuse of a . . . vulnerable part of our community.”


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