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Alleged SoCal faith healer arrested for continuing practice • Tuesday April 15, 2003

Associated Press, Apr. 12, 2003

LOS ANGELES – An alleged faith healer charged with involuntary manslaughter in a patient’s death remained jailed Friday after being arrested for continuing to practice medicine without a license, officials said.

Reina Chavarria, 48, of the Van Nuys area, was arrested Thursday for investigation of practicing medicine without a license and possessing controlled substances, said officials with the county Department of Health Services.

Chavarria had been free on bail while awaiting trial for the Oct. 28, 2002, death of Roberto Caceres, 54, who went to Chavarria to control a persistent rash. The Salvadoran immigrant’s family members said he was injected with a mix of vitamins and steroids by Chavarria’s assistant, suffered an immediate reaction and died the same day.

Chavarria and her assistant, Margarita Montes, 28, were charged last year with involuntary manslaughter and practicing medicine without a license. The women face up to 12 years in prison if convicted.

An anonymous tipster told authorities earlier this month that Chavarria was still operating her practice out of her house, county health officials said. A search warrant was issued and authorities seized syringes, controlled substances, including anabolic steroids, and other injectable drugs, officials said.

An undercover agent from a multi-agency task force also posed as a patient and was treated by Chavarria, authorities said.

A jail clerk said Chavarria was ordered to appear in court Monday. She remained imprisoned late Friday night with bail set at $100,000.

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