CHULA VISTA, Calif. – The owner of a clinic has been charged with posing as a doctor to perform abortions, some of them unsuccessful or resulting in severe complications and hospitalization, prosecutors said Friday.
Bertha Pinedo Bugarin, 48, was arrested Thursday after a yearlong investigation, San Diego County district attorney spokesman Paul Levikow said.
She was charged with 10 felony counts, including performing medical procedures without a license and grand theft, he said. She faces more than nine years in prison if convicted.
Bugarin, who was being held on $500,000 bail, was scheduled to be arraigned July 2. An call to her attorney Peter Hughes after business hours Friday was not immediately returned.
Prosecutors said Bugarin at one time operated six clinics in Southern California that provided abortions. For her clinic in Chula Vista, near the Mexican border, she advertised her service on Spanish-language television and charged $500 for an abortion.
She performed abortions on several women at that clinic in February and March, authorities said.
"This defendant preyed on women in the Hispanic community," district attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis said in a statement. "By passing herself as a doctor, she put these women's lives in serious danger."
At least nine women have identified Bugarin as the person who performed medical procedures on them, prosecutors said. In one case, a patient suffered severe complications and had to be hospitalized three times. She eventually delivered her baby prematurely.
Another woman had to return for a second procedure because the abortion was unsuccessful the first time, prosecutors said.