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Man Pleads Guilty in Phony Cures Case

March 27, 2004

BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ A man accused of charging patients $10,000 for a supposed miracle cure for spinal cord injuries has pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges.

Prosecutors said more than 100 patients, most paraplegics or quadriplegics, paid up to $10,000 each to come to clinics in Idaho, Utah and Colorado to be treated with a product called Neuralyn, promoted over the Internet by Thomas Vigil and his former wife.

The patients were told that Neuralyn was 85 to 95 percent effective and could regrow nerve cells, enabling them to move or even walk again, prosecutors claimed. Officials said the drug merely contained a topical anesthetic that provided temporary pain relief.

Thomas Vigil pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and mislabeling drugs during a hearing on Thursday, U.S. Attorney Tom Moss said. Sentencing was set for July 1.

The counts against Vigil carry a maximum sentence of 124 years in prison and $7 million in fines, but his actual sentence is expected to be much lower.

His former wife, Beverly Vigil, was sentenced last June to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay $800,000 to victims of the scam.

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