20 May 2004 – LAWFUEL – A man currently serving a 12½-year sentence for impersonating a physician was
sentenced this morning to an additional 120 months in federal prison for posing as
a doctor after escaping from prison in 2000.
Gerald Barnes, 70, was sentenced on his fifth conviction of impersonating a doctor.
The 10-year sentence imposed by United States District Judge J. Spencer Letts in
Los Angeles will run consecutive to both the 12½-year sentence and a separate,
previously imposed 2½-year sentence for the escape. The prior sentences are not due
to expire until June 2009.
Barnes, who was born Gerald Barnbaum, claims to have legally changed his name in
the 1970s to Gerald Barnes, the name of a licensed physician who was practicing in
Stockton, California. After obtaining copies of Dr. Barnes’ school records and
medical credentials, the fake Dr. Barnes used the documents to obtain employment at
numerous medical clinics and offices in Southern California.
As part of today’s sentencing, Judge Letts ordered the defendant to stop using the
name of Gerald Barnes, finding no evidence that the defendant had ever legally
adopted that name.
Barnes pleaded guilty in 1981 to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the
death of a 29-year-old patient who died of complications from diabetes after being
misdiagnosed by Barnes. He was convicted again in 1984 and 1989 on state charges of
grand theft and writing fraudulent prescriptions. Upon each release from prison,
Barnes resumed his impersonation of Dr. Barnes.
In 1996, Barnes pleaded guilty to federal charges related to his ongoing
impersonation of a physician. Prior to his arrest by federal agents, Barnes had
been employed as the medical director of Executive Health Group, a Los Angeles
clinic with a client list that included the Federal Reserve Bank, the Federal
Bureau of Investigation and a number of major corporations. As a result of this
conviction, Barnes was sentenced to 12½ years imprisonment.
In August 2000, Barnes escaped from federal custody while being transferred from a
prison in Taft, California, to one in Marion, Illinois. He immediately returned to
Los Angeles, re-assumed the identity of Dr. Barnes, and obtained employment as a
physician with Family Medical Center, a clinic with offices in Los Angeles and
North Hollywood. Barnes continued working as a doctor, earning a salary of $10,000
per month, until he was arrested by United States Marshals on September 27, 2000.
Barnes was subsequently prosecuted in Illinois on federal escape charges, which
resulted in the 2½-year sentence.
When he pleaded guilty to the most recent case in September 2003, Barnes admitted
impersonating Dr. Barnes to secure and maintain employment at Family Medical
Center, where he examined and treated patients and wrote numerous prescriptions for
controlled substances. Barnes also admitted using Dr. Barnes’ Social Security
number and credit rating to purchase merchandise, including a new Mitsubishi
Eclipse purchased for over $25,000. Barnes financed the entire purchase price and
made no payments on the vehicle.
At today’s sentencing hearing, Judge Letts described Barnes’ case as
“extraordinary,” noting that the defendant had been “incredibly successful” at
portraying a physician, even at the age of 66. Despite Barnes’ request for leniency
in light of his age and claimed health problems, Judge Letts stated that he could
not “in good conscience” impose anything less than a 10-year sentence.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
which received assistance from investigators with the California State Medical
Board. The Drug Enforcement Agency provided specialized expertise during this