FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 72CR-14-1936]
HONORABLE MARK LINDSAY, JUDGE.
Law Group PLLC, by: Natalie S. King, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: David L. Eanes, Jr., Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, JUDGE.
Isabell Gervais was charged in the Washington County Circuit
Court with five counts of theft of property by deception and
one count of fraudulent use of a credit card. A Washington
County jury convicted her on all six charges and sentenced
her to pay $33, 600 in fines, which were converted to
restitution. On appeal, Gervais contends that the circuit
court erred in denying her motion for directed verdict. We
disagree and affirm.
Standard of Review
appeal, we treat a motion for directed verdict as a challenge
to the sufficiency of the evidence. Paschal v.
State, 2012 Ark. 127, 388 S.W.3d 429; Harris v.
State, 2014 Ark.App. 264. This court views the evidence
in the light most favorable to the verdict, and only evidence
supporting the verdict will be considered. Armour v.
State, 2016 Ark.App. 612, 509 S.W.3d 668. In reviewing a
challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court
determines whether the verdict is supported by substantial
evidence, direct or circumstantial. Castrellon v.
State, 2013 Ark.App. 408, 428 S.W.3d 607. Substantial
evidence is evidence forceful enough to compel a conclusion
one way or the other beyond suspicion or conjecture.
Armour, supra. We do not, however, weigh
the evidence presented at trial, as that is a matter for the
fact-finder, nor will we weigh the credibility of the
witnesses. Donovan v. State, 71 Ark.App. 226, 32
S.W.3d 1 (2000).
Theft by Deception
was charged with five counts of theft of property by
deception. To sustain this charge, the State had to prove
that she knowingly obtained the property of another person by
deception with the purpose of depriving the owner of the
property. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-36-103(a)(2) (Repl. 2013).
"Deception" means, among other things,
"[e]mploying any other scheme to defraud." Ark.
Code Ann. § 5-36-101(3)(A)(v). The felony or misdemeanor
classification of the offense of theft by deception depends
on the value of the property obtained. At trial, Gervais made
a two-prong directed-verdict motion on the theft-by-deception
charges, arguing that the State failed to prove (1) that she
knowingly deceived the victims in order to deprive them of
property and (2) the dollar amount of the property obtained.
Scheme to Defraud
first examine the evidence that supports the jury's
conclusion that Gervais employed a scheme to defraud.
Gervais, who is not licensed to practice medicine in
Arkansas, operated what she purported were naturopathic
medical clinics in Fayetteville and Johnson. Gervais offered
various treatments and "medicines" to her patients.
Law enforcement began an investigation that included sending
samples of the "medications" that Gervais had
provided to her patients to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for
testing; however, none of the liquids or powders that were
tested contained any medically useful substances. Based on
the complaints of five of her patients, the State filed the
Gervais's trial, the State produced the testimony of the
patients who initially contacted the police-Chelsea
Krohn-Cully, Barry Langford, Margaret Taylor, and Lia
Danks. Each witness offered similar accounts of
his or her experience with Gervais. Gervais described her
"extensive training" in England to her patients and
introduced herself as "Dr. Bell." Gervais presented
business cards that indicated that she possessed a number of
credentials, including an M.B.B.S., O.M.D., H.M.D., and
N.M.D. Gervais explained that these initials stood for,
respectively, a bachelor of medicine and bachelor of science,
oriental medicine doctor, homeopathic medical doctor, and
naturopathic medical doctor. She asserted that the M.B.B.S.
was a "medical degree in England" that is
"similar to an M.D. in England." Krohn-Cully
testified that Gervais told her that she was a doctor in
England; Langford testified that Gervais represented herself
as a doctor; Danks testified that Gervais told her that she
had been credentialed as a doctor in London; and Taylor
stated that Gervais told her she was a doctor, and Taylor
assumed that she was because her business card said "Dr.
Isabell Gervais and all those letters." Despite the
impression that she left with her patients, however, Gervais
had no medical training or credentials from any school or
institution in the United States. She specifically admitted
that she is not licensed to practice medicine in Arkansas.
State also presented evidence that Gervais engaged in other
practices as part of her scheme to defraud. For example,
Gervais took samples of the blood, saliva, and hair of
Langford and Danks with the explanation that she
would send the samples to Germany for a "DNA test,
" charging them between $450 and $600 for each
"test." Gervais refused to show the actual results
of the alleged tests to the patients. Instead, she read to
them what she purported were the results. In both cases,
Gervais related to them that the reports contained dire
diagnoses and gave them "medicine, " which
contained no medicinal value, for their conditions.
and Taylor presented another example of Gervais's scheme
to defraud. Gervais affirmatively represented to both
Krohn-Cully and Taylor that their expenses would be
reimbursed by insurance or Medicare, which was not
true. Taylor additionally testified that at one
point, she received a billing statement from Gervais with a
handwritten notation that read, "Margaret, I am sending
in your claim this week. I am writing you a check back from
escrow until you receive payment from Medicare." The
check was for $9, 100. Taylor explained that she had written
Gervais a check for $9, 100, and Gervais wrote her the check
"to take care of what I was giving to her until my