Man accused of giving bag of dirt to cancer patient as treatment


Authorities say a Northern California man claiming to practice natural medicine swindled a Thousand Oaks cancer patient out of thousands of dollars by giving her expired medication and a baggie of dirt to treat her ailments.

Vincent Gammill is out on bail after Ventura County sheriff’s officials say he was furnishing dangerous drugs without a license, including more than 25,000 prescription pills, morphine and other substances from Mexico and Russia.

Gammill could not be reached for comment.

Gammill told detectives he was providing alternative treatments to cancer patients who visited his office in Richmond. Detectives with the Ventura County Interagency Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit, who were investigating Gammill, said they could not find records showing he had any medical training, although he told them that he obtained a doctor of science degree sometime in the 1990s.


Investigators searched Gammill’s home in El Cerrito and his office on July 9, where they found laboratory equipment and bottles labeled poison, sheriff’s officials said.

He also was arrested on suspicion of elder abuse and practicing medicine without a license.

Gammill operates the Natural Oncology Institute Inc., which offers “alternative and complementary care for those with cancer, to communicate this knowledge to individuals and practitioners and to provide practical assistance and support to those with cancer,” according to the center’s website.

That’s how the Thousand Oaks woman came to know of Gammill and his treatments.

In 2009, the woman saw Gammill’s website and planned to seek treatment from him as her last resort, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

In June, the woman, who was suffering from late-stage cancer, drove north to his office, hoping to get treatment.

During the appointment, Gammill examined her and went over his plans to treat her cancer.

The plan, including 16 hours of consultation and treatment, cost $2,000, sheriff’s officials said.


After paying him, Gammill gave her numerous baggies containing powders, vials of liquids, empty capsules, expired medication and dirt, sheriff’s officials said.

He then pulled out a frying pan because he said “one of the compounds could burn a hole through the table,” according to the sheriff’s office. Gammill instructed her on how to combine the compounds in the frying pan.

She followed his instructions and swallowed a capsule containing the mixture. But the treatment went terribly wrong.

After ingesting the concoction, she experienced a burning sensation in her stomach.

Gammill told her that the sensation was good and signaled that “the ingredients were still active,” sheriff’s officials said.

She returned home and reported Gammill to Ventura County sheriff’s detectives after she said his prescribed treatments harmed her and failed to cure her.

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