Three people are facing racketeering charges after authorities allege they took part in a scheme that allowed an unlicensed former doctor to perform surgeries.
A Cobb County grand jury returned 10 charges against Nathaniel Johnson, Peter Ulbrich and Shannon Denise Williams on May 5. Charges include two counts of racketeering, three counts of theft by deception and five counts of practicing medicine without a license.
According to the indictment, Ulbrich and Williams allowed Johnson to practice medicine even though he didn't have a medical license.
The indictment said that Johnson, a plastic surgeon, lost his license after he pleaded guilty to numerous charges, including Medicaid fraud, in Fulton County back in July 2014. As part of that plea deal, he also agreed to pay back $300,000 in restitution.
Months later, Cobb County investigators allege Johnson began practicing again.
According to the indictment, Ulbrich, a licensed doctor, and Williams, an office assistant at the business, which was located at 4375 Cobb Parkway Suite C, allowed Johnson to continue to meet patients and perform surgery even though he no longer had a license. Investigators said Johnson met up to 40 patients who thought he was a licensed doctor between February 2015 and November 2016.
Ulbrich is accused of allowing Johnson to write prescriptions in his name, even in some cases when Ulbrich had not met the patient. In some instances, Johnson performed surgery while Ulbrich was in the room. In other cases, Ulbrich did the surgical work while Johnson instructed him on what to do. In those cases, Ulbrich referred to Johnson as "Dr. Johnson," the indictment said.
During the time of the alleged incidents, Ulbrich, a gynecologist, was under probation after allegedly having sexual relationships with two female patients.
Williams is accused of scheduling appointments, interacting with patients and helping to communicate medical care instructions before and after surgery. She's also accused of being present and interacting and assisting with medical procedures to the point that many patients thought she was the office nurse.
At least one of the patients treated by Johnson had to go to the hospital after an infection, prosecutors allege.
"The indictment doesn't necessarily on the quality of, or the nature of, the medical care," said Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds. "It turns on the fact that it was deception and theft involved and that an individual was saying he was one thing when he wasn't."
Johnson had initially been arrested last summer and bonded out. Authorities in Cobb County expanded the investigation and ordered bench warrants for the three.
Ulbrich was arrested late last weekend in Coweta County, and transferred to Cobb Jail on Monday. The Cobb County Jail website indicates he was released on Tuesday.
Johnson had been arrested on the original charges last July. In a hearing on Thursday, he was granted $45,000 bond on the new charges. He will be placed under arrest with an ankle monitor after concerns were expressed about the previous violations. He faces up to 100 years in prison if convicted.
Johnson's attorney, Dwight Thomas, said the charges against his client won't hold up.
"One of the things you learn about people who get cosmetic surgery is they don't like themselves. and people who are not satisfied with themselves and look in the mirror, they don't like what they see," he said. "They blame God, the doctor, the mirror and the people who make the mirror. So we have to understand this is the basis for this indictment."
It's not yet clear if Williams has been arrested.
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