On June 24, a former doctor who had been stripped of his license in 1995 admitted to issuing medical marijuana recommendations to patients under a false name.
Nelson Leone, owner of Green Cross Evaluations, pled guilty in federal court to identity theft by using a different doctor's name and license number in order to issue the recommendations, according to a statement from U.S. attorney Laura Duffy's office.
Leone, 72, owned six clinics throughout San Diego, including locations on Park Boulevard, Mission Valley, Sports Arena, and Pacific Beach. The former doctor purchased advertising in the Reader and online websites, touting the clinic's customer service and amenities such as on-site ATMs, walk-in services, and discounted rates for first-time patients.
Leone, through his website, claimed that each clinic had a licensed physician on-site for evaluations. Investigators later found that five of the six clinics did not have anyone licensed.
"Leone employed a licensed doctor at just one of the six clinics to meet with customers and issue medical marijuana recommendations," said the U.S. attorney in a prepared statement. "In the absence of a licensed physician who could validly evaluate patients, Leone issued medical marijuana recommendations to customers at the other five clinics under his sole doctor’s name and license number. These recommendations falsely certified that the customers were evaluated in the doctor’s office and suffered from a medical condition that 'may benefit from the use of medical marijuana.'
“It is simply unacceptable to have someone forge a doctor’s signature for their own personal financial gain."