“Just because you saw a season of Grey’s Anatomy,” the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet Tuesday, “doesn’t mean you could practice medicine.”
The remark was aimed at Malachi Love-Robinson, who authorities say opened his own clinic and posed as a doctor for the second time in a year. Love-Robinson doesn’t have a license or a medical degree — it’s not even clear that he’s been to college. He is, after all, only 18.
On Tuesday, the wannabe Doogie Howser conducted a physical exam on a woman at his “holistic and alternative medical care” clinic. After taking her temperature, blood pressure and listening to her lungs with a stethoscope, he sagely assured her that she was not in fact sick, she told WPBF.
Then he was arrested.
The woman was an undercover agent with the Palm Beach Narcotics Task Force, which, along with the Florida Department of Health, started investigating Love-Robinson after getting a complaint from one of his purported patients. The teen is now being held at the Palm Beach County Jail on a $21,000 bond and is charged with practicing medicine without a license, theft and four counts of fraud.
It’s not clear how many patients Love-Robinson had seen before his arrest, but his clinic was open for at least three months.
This isn’t the first time that Love-Robinson has been caught with a white coat and stethoscope. Last winter, police in Palm Beach got a call from St. Mary’s Medical Center saying that a young man who “appeared to be a child” was inside an exam room, according to the Orlando Sun Sentinel. The boy had a lab coat embroidered with the St. Mary’s Logo and the word “anesthesiology,” and a security guard said that he was known around the hospital as a doctor, though he looked far too young to have undergone a combined total 12 years of college, medical school and a residency.
Sebastian Kent, an obstetrician-gynecologist whose office is on the medical center’s grounds, saw the teenager in his exam room; he introduced himself as “Dr. Robinson.”
“The first thing I thought was … ‘I am really getting old because these young doctors look younger every year,” he told WSBTV last year.
The boy’s name was redacted from police reports at the time, since he was a minor, but he turned out to be Love-Robinson.
“This guy can schmooze his way around, he can tell any story you want to hear,” Kent told the Sun-Sentinel. “That’s what he tried to do with me — he tried to ingratiate himself with me so I would take him around, and after a while it started to not make sense to me. I thought something was wrong.”
He called security, who called the police, who took the boy away in handcuffs, according to WSBTV. The teenager was detained and questioned but ultimately not charged.
Then, in October, authorities got word that Love-Robinson was at it again. Authorities sent him a cease-and-desist letter, Florida Department of Health spokesman Brad Dalton told the Sun-Sentinel, but Love-Robinson was incorrigible.
He appeared to open New Birth New Life Holistic and Alternative Medical Center and Urgent Care in November, based on a Facebook page for the clinic, and allegedly put together a semi-convincing plan. New Birth New Life shared an office building with a dental practice and West Palm Medical Group; it had a website, complete with glowing testimonials from purported patients and a staff page that listed “Dr. Malachi A. Love-Robinson” as president and chief executive. (It also claimed that he held a PhD, an HHP-C and an AMP-C, though it’s not clear what the latter acronyms refer to).
But there were some holes in his disguise: a description of himself on the website healthgrades.com says that he is a 25-year-old “well rounded proffessional” (misspelling the word “professional”); Love-Robinson’s bio doesn’t offer any schools he attended and his name is nowhere to be found in the Florida Department of Health’s license verification database.
Then, of course, there’s the fact that Love-Robinson looks so young.
After getting another complaint about the supposed him in January, Florida health and anti-narcotics authorities set up a sting on the clinic this month, according to WPBF. An unnamed detective with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office told the TV station that an 86-year-old woman had contacted them after Love-Robinson visited her home when she was feeling ill.
He told her she needed to go to the hospital, and as she was loaded into an ambulance, she said she asked him to return her purse to her house, the woman said. Instead, investigators believe, he allegedly stole her checks and had been cashing them around town.
But Love-Robinson’s grandfather William Robinson says this is all a misunderstanding. He told the Sun-Sentinel that the teen never claimed to be a medical doctor, just a holistic doctor, and that he held certificates to practice from online schools.
“He was pursuing things, but I don’t really know what it came to,” Robinson said. “He was pursuing the field that he wanted to get into.”
He denied that Love-Robinson had received any patients at his clinic, adding that the goal was to set up the clinic and then attract licensed doctors to come work there. Robinson also told the Sun-Sentinel that his grandson was an “up-and-coming minister” at the church where Robinson himself is pastor.
“He’s not out doing drugs, he’s not out trying to rob nobody,” Robinson said. “He’s trying to do something constructive, and if he did do something and the paperwork wasn’t right — he can get ahead of himself sometimes and he may have been trying too hard, but he had good intentions.”
Speaking to WPBF after New Birth New Life’s grand opening in January, Love-Robinson confirmed that he was the teenager who had been detained at St. Mary’s last year, but he denied that he was masquerading as a doctor.
“I requested to shadow physicians — next thing I know, cops are there, that’s all I know, all I know, I have no idea,” he said at the time, adding that what he was doing at the clinic wasn’t fraudulent.
A reporter from the TV station referred back to those words during Love-Robinson’s arrest Tuesday.
“You told me that you knew the difference between a doctor and not a doctor and you said you were not a doctor, correct?” asked reporter Terri Parker as she followed the handcuffed teenager and two police officers into an elevator.
“These allegations and accusations will be cleared up and you will hear from my lawyer,” Love-Robinson replied.
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