Relatives of a man who died while being treated for pneumonia at a natural healing center are suing the store's owner and employees, saying their false promises and failure to seek medical care led to his death.
The family members say in a lawsuit filed this week that the center's owner led the 64-year-old man who died in May to believe she was a licensed naturopathic doctor.
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But the family's attorney says Charmaine Bassett had no legitimate training and that she made bogus claims about receiving training from fictitious institutions and being certified in holistic treatment methods such as nutrition, herbology, biochemistry and advanced quantum feedback.
"The whole thing is a fraud," said attorney Chad Tuschman.
Ted Grachek was staying in Florida last spring when he became ill and returned to Toledo, going directly to the natural healing center called Anyana-Kai, Tuschman said. He stayed there for about 10 days before he died on May 2.
Bassett wasn't at the center then and was being sought on a warrant accusing her of selling marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms at the store. She pleaded guilty in July to drug charges, including aggravated trafficking, and was sentenced to probation.
Even though Bassett didn't directly treat Grachek in the spring, she was calling her employees and instructing them how to handle his illness, the family's attorney said.
Grachek's family was worried about his declining health and tried to persuade him to see a doctor and also took a picture of him hooked up to an IV, Tuschman said.
"God only knows what was in that IV," he said.
A woman answering the phone at the healing center Friday said Bassett was not available.
Scott Ciolek, an attorney who has represented Bassett in the past but hasn't yet been retained in the lawsuit, said it seemed clear that Grachek consciously sought treatment at the healing center.
The family's lawsuit also says that before the illness, Bassett had been advising Grachek to take an addictive drug that's not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and has similar effects to opioids.
Grachek became addicted to the drug and paid thousands of dollars to Bassett for it, the lawsuit says.
He began taking supplements under Bassett's advisement after his wife died in 2013, Tuschman said. "For some reason, Ted bought into Charmaine," he said.