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‘pH Miracle Diet’ author gets jail for phony medical practice

VISTA — A man who espoused alternative medicine while treating terminally ill people without a license at his Valley Center avocado ranch was sentenced Thursday to three years and eight months in county jail.

With credit for time already served, Robert O. Young  — the author of the “pH Miracle Diet” book series — will spend about six months behind bars before being released, said Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas.

Young, 65, pleaded guilty in April to a charge of practicing medicine without a license.

The defendant admitted that he didn’t have any post-high school educational degrees from any accredited schools and that he is not a microbiologist, hematologist, medical doctor, naturopathic doctor or trained scientist.

Vista Superior Court Judge Richard Whitney warned Young to stay out of medical practices in the future.

Young was convicted last year of two separate counts of practicing medicine without a license and acquitted on a third count. Jurors deadlocked on six remaining charges, including two counts of grand theft. Three jurors likened Young’s science to selling snake oil.

Darvas said Young went beyond advocating dietary changes and used intravenous treatments on “patients” he housed at his 46-acre ranch. The prosecutor said Young sold treatments to people who were terminally ill, knowing it wouldn’t be effective.

Defense attorney Paul Pfingst said Young has a doctoral degree and people who came to him for treatment were well aware that he wasn’t a medical doctor.

In cases where patients needed to be injected with needles, Young hired doctors and nurses to perform those tasks, Pfingst said.

In Utah in 1995, Young was arrested on two felony counts of practicing medicine without a license. He pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor, which was dismissed under a plea deal 18 months later.

He was charged again in Utah in 2001, but the case was dropped.