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Jurors: Cancer therapy a fraud

Award in suit is $2.5 million by Linda Satter | June 15, 2011 at 4:46 a.m.

— A federal jury awarded $2.5 million in damages Tuesday to a California woman who paid $6,250 to undergo alternative treatments from a Jacksonville woman who promised a “100 percent success rate” in destroying cancerous breast tumors.

Antonella Carpenter, the former Jacksonville woman who has since moved to Broken Arrow, Okla., and continues to proclaim on her website that she has found a simple, painless way to kill cancerous tumors, wasn’t present for the verdict against her and her company, Lase Med Inc.

She also didn’t return calls to her business.

In fact, neither Carpenter nor any other Lase Med representative, including any of the attorneys she has hired and fired since the suit was filed in 2009, showed up for the jury trial that began Monday in U.S. District Judge James Moody’s Little Rock courtroom.

But the empty defense table didn’t stop attorney Will Bond of the McMath Woods law firm in Little Rock from presenting testimony to the four-man, four woman jury from a string of witnesses that included the plaintiff, Therese Westphal, 54, and a veteran oncologist, Bill Tranum.

Tranum testified that the laser-light treatments that Carpenter performed over five days did nothing but give Westphal false hope, which delayed her from seeking legitimate treatment, in the process greatly jeopardizing her chance of survival.

While Westphal had a 75 percent to 90 percent chance of beating the cancer immediately after being diagnosed, the delay dropped her chances to 20 percent, the doctor testified.

Westphal testified that aggressive chemotherapy she sought months after she realized that the laser treatments hadn’t cured her sent her breast cancer into remission twice, but it has since returned.

Bob Babecka of Powder Springs, Ga., testified that his wife, Cindy, died from breast cancer last year, two years after Carpenter treated her in the Jacksonville storefront.

Diane French of Black Mountain, N.C., testified that Carpenter treated her with “photo dynamic therapy” in 2007, in an office in North Little Rock, but it didn’t work. By the time French sought legitimate therapy, it was too late. She said her breast cancer is considered incurable.

Westphal, a mother of three sons, said she read about the treatment in a flier she found in a health-food store in California where she went to research nontraditional cancer treatments shortly after being diagnosed in September 2007 with a 2 1/4-inch tumor in the upper right corner of her left breast.

Babecka said his wife learned about Carpenter’s laser treatment while conducting Internet research on alternative cancer treatments - the same way French said she learned about it.

Bond said Lase Med and Carpenter have perpetrated fraud on cancer patients in several states in the past few years by selling “snake oil.”

Aaron Sadler, a spokesman for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, confirmed later Tuesday that the office began investigating Carpenter and Lase Med in 2008 or 2009, but “She abruptly moved to Oklahoma, so we closed our investigation and notified the Oklahoma attorney general’s office.”

Bond said he is unaware of any criminal charges or other civil lawsuits against Carpenter and Lase Med, except for another one he filed but later withdrew after the plaintiff died.

Jurors on Monday watched Bond’s recorded video deposition of Carpenter, which was taken in Oklahoma earlier this year. In it, she admitted to having performed the “laser therapy” in other states as well, including Nevada, but denied she had been “run out” of that state by the attorney general’s office.

Carpenter, who immigrated to the United States from Italy in the 1960s and still speaks with a thick Italian accent, admitted that she personally treated Westphal, proclaiming with a toss of her long red curls, “I’m the only one that can do it. I developed it.”

She refused to disclose how her method works, saying other people might steal her proprietary discovery. However, she said, she started treating patients in 2000 in Mexico, and treated patients in Arkansas from 2004 through 2008, after leaving Nevada.

“It’s something that I purchased, and it is something that is available to everybody, but I’m not going to give it out,” she said of the treatment.

She refers to herself on the website as a “doctor.” Bond says she’s not a medical doctor, but claims to have a doctorate in physics, possibly from an online university.

Carpenter’s website,, declares, “The Race for the Cure is Over!”

The website advertises that Lase Med Inc., a company that Carpenter started with her ex-husband, is a research and development corporation that holds a patent for an “innovative” form of “photo dynamic therapy” that results in “the generation of elevated temperature, called hyperthermia, within the tumor and or malignant lesion only, producing inactivation and consequent death of the neoplasm.”

The website proclaims, “This special version of PDT is called L.I.E.S.H. Therapy, and can treat all kinds of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma,but also melanoma, all types of breast cancer, including infiltrating ductal carcinoma,” and other cancers.

The site says that Carpenter uses “cool laser technology,” a noninvasive cancer treatment, and notes, “Non-invasive cancer treatments can kill cancer in its tracks.”

Westphal testified that after she flew to Arkansas for the treatment, Carpenter injected her breast with something that turned it green, then circled the breast with a long electrode as another woman sat in the corner with a stopwatch telling Carpenter when to stop and start the circling electrode.

Although she was scheduled for six days’ worth of treatments, Westphal said, Carpenter declared on the fifth day that an ultrasound showed that “the flow had stopped, the tumor was dead and I didn’t need a sixth treatment.”

“I was really happy,” Westphal recalled. “I believed the cancer was dead and I was able to avoid chemotherapy and losing my hair. .. I felt like the luckiest person in the world.”

Bond said after the verdict that he may never be able to collect on the judgment awarding Westphal $500,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million each from Carpenter and Lase Med, but, “I think it was important for a jury to say this is fraudulent.”

He said Westphal’s main purpose was to “shine the light on Lase Med and Antonella Carpenter.”

Arkansas, Pages 9 on 06/15/2011

Print Headline: Jurors: Cancer therapy a fraud


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