21 Sep 2018
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), with support of the Medical Board of Australia, has successfully prosecuted fake doctor Raffaele Di Paolo for further offences under the National Law and prosecuted his company, with additional fines totaling $28,000.
AHPRA started investigating Mr Di Paolo after receiving a notification from the Health Services Commissioner in Victoria about Mr Di Paolo and his conduct during a series of consultations with patients and families. This led to two separate investigations, one in Victoria and one in Queensland.
As a result of the notification, AHPRA filed charges in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria against Mr Di Paolo and his company, Artemedica Pty Ltd (The Company), and against Mr Di Paolo in the Magistrates’ Court of Queensland at Southport.
In the Victorian proceedings, AHPRA alleged that Mr Di Paolo had:
The prosecution by AHPRA took place alongside a criminal prosecution for various indictable offences brought by the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) including procuring sexual penetration by fraud, obtaining financial advantage by deception and indecent assault.
In relation to the DPP charges, the court sentenced Mr Di Paolo to nine years and six months in prison, with a non parole period of six years and six months, and placed him on the sex offender register for life.
In relation to the AHPRA charges, Mr Di Paolo pleaded guilty to five charges. The Court convicted him, imposed a fine of $5,000 and ordered that he pay AHPRA’s costs.
On 13 August 2018 at the Magistrates Court of Victoria at Melbourne, the Company pleaded guilty to three charges of knowingly or recklessly holding out another person as a registered health practitioner by using the initials “MD” in relation to Mr Di Paolo on a number of invoices sent by the Company. The Court noted that Mr Di Paolo was the sole director and shareholder of the Company and that it had no assets.
The Magistrate convicted and fined the company $8,000, and ordered that it pay AHPRA’s costs.
On 3 September 2018, the further prosecution of Mr Di Paolo took place in Southport Magistrates’ Court. Mr Di Paolo had been charged with three additional offences relating to using a specialist title and using words to indicate he was a registered medical practitioner at a medical conference in Queensland in September 2014 at which he was a guest speaker.
Mr Di Paolo did not contest the charges.
Mr Di Paolo was convicted and fined $20,000 and ordered to pay AHPRA’s costs of $8,577.10.
Make sure you are seeing a registered health practitioner
It is a serious matter if anyone who is not a registered health practitioner claims to be a registered health practitioner or uses titles that are protected under the National Law (e.g. medical practitioner). Both are offences and may be prosecuted by AHPRA.
The National Law protects the public by ensuring that only registered health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified are able to use protected titles. The law allows for penalties to be issued by the Court for using protected titles or holding out as a registered practitioner when not entitled to. The maximum penalty which a court may impose per charge is $30,000 (in the case of an individual) or $60,000 (in the case of a body corporate).
It is important that you ensure that the practitioner you are seeing is appropriately registered. Anyone receiving treatment from a person who is claiming to be registered when they are not is a cause for concern. Remember to check the Register of practitioners or you can raise a concern by calling 1300 419 495.
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