A South Dakota man who made $16.6 million selling fraudulent medical devices called QLasers to the elderly and others with medical problems has been sentenced to prison.
South Dakota federal judge Roberto A. Lange sentenced Robert “Larry” Lytle, 83, of Rapid City, to 12 years in prison, followed by two years’ supervised release for organizing and leading the fraud scheme.
Mr. Lytle pleaded guilty in January to one count of conspiracy to introduce misbranded medical devices into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud and mislead and one count of criminal contempt.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Mr. Lytle and co-conspirators marketed, distributed, and sold light-emitting devices called QLasers mostly to elderly consumers throughout the U.S., claiming they could safely and effectively treat a panoply of medical conditions at home, including cancer, emphysema, diabetes, autism, HIV, and heart disease.
Mr. Lytle created “false and misleading” product labeling stating that the QLaser devices were scientifically proven to treat serious medical conditions when they weren’t, federal prosecutors said, adding that the devices were never approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any of the stated uses.
“To lend credibility and authority to his claims, the potential QLaser purchasers were told ‘Dr. Lytle’ was a ‘retired’ dentist and medical laser expert while omitting the fact that his license to practice dentistry had been permanently revoked for engaging in fraud and material deception,” federal prosecutors said.
In 2015, a federal court issued a series of injunctions ordering Mr. Lytle and his co-conspirators to stop selling QLasers and refund all purchasers the cost of the devices, but they “forged ahead with the fraud” instead.
Additionally, Mr. Lytle made false statements to the court and FDA investigators, sent collection letters to QLaser purchasers rather than pay them court-ordered restitution, smuggled hundreds of devices out of South Dakota to upstate New York to prevent their seizure, and received a steady stream of income from continued QLaser sales with the help of his co-conspirators, the Justice Department said.
“These defendants exploited elderly victims suffering from chronic, serious medical conditions,” said Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Protecting Americans from this abhorrent behavior will remain one of the Justice Department’s highest priorities.”
In addition to his prison sentence, Mr. Lytle was also ordered to pay restitution. He made an initial payment of $637,000 and has turned over several thousand dollars’ worth of gold and silver coins to be applied to the restitution.
Judge Lange also sentenced Mr. Lytle’s co-conspirators, Ronald D. Weir Jr., 39, of Sioux Falls, to two years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release and Irina Kossovskaia, 63, a Canadian resident, to 15 months, followed by two years of supervised release.