FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Malachi Love-Robinson was 17 when he first posed as a doctor in South Florida, watching at least one gynecological exam. Three years later, he is trading his white lab coat for blue jail scrubs.
Love-Robinson, now 20, was facing 14 criminal charges when on Thursday he admitted the con and agreed to a 3 1/2-year prison term with credit for 16 months already served. He must repay his victims $80,000 when he gets out, although he won’t be on probation.
He was facing up to 90 years for his propensity to masquerade as a doctor in West Palm Beach. His ruse made national headlines as authorities unraveled a trail of deceit that included fraudulent diplomas and a real stethoscope.
His plea deal ends a criminal saga that included trouble in northern Virginia — he pleaded guilty last year on fraud counts not involving medicine and served a year behind bars up there.
Love-Robinson was first accused of being a fake doctor three years ago this month, when a West Palm Beach police report said he peeked in on at least one gynecological exam at St. Mary’s Medical Center. He said at the time he was “deeply saddened and a little disrespected” by the allegations.
Records show that later in 2015 he opened a clinic in Boynton Beach but closed it after he was issued a cease-and-desist order from the Florida of Department of Health because he didn’t have a medical license.
In one meeting with state investigators, Love-Robinson admitted that a diploma from Arizona State University that he had presented at the clinic was fraudulent, records show.
Love-Robinson also said that he had a degree from an online Christian school and explained that medical doctors on staff would be consulted if a client needed drugs, according to a report of the interview.
The state investigators found Love-Robinson’s role at the clinic went too far, saying that for nearly a month he was “leading the public to believe (he) was a licensed medical doctor, without holding an active license,” the report said.
Later, investigators learned Love-Robinson was again practicing medicine without a license from an office called The New Birth New Life Medical Center in West Palm Beach, according to an arrest report.
Love-Robinson was presenting himself as a licensed physician and had employees, but no one there was licensed to diagnose and treat patients, the report said. He was arrested in early 2016 after allegedly conducting a physical examination of a female undercover officer, who came to his office complaining of feeling sick.
That year, one of Love-Robinson’s former lawyers announced plans to explore a mental health defense.
But on Thursday, Love-Robinson pleaded guilty to one count of practicing medicine without a license concerning that incident. The plea terms were negotiated by Assistant State Attorney Michael Rachel and Assistant Public Defender Ilana Marcus. Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jeffery Colbath approved the punishment.
Love-Robinson also admitted guilt on charges of practicing naturopathy without a license and grand theft. That centered on allegations that he stole personal checks from an 86-year-old West Palm Beach woman with severe intestinal pain whose home he visited several times.
Officials said Love-Robinson tapped Anita Morrison’s checking account to make $34,504 in payments for his car loans and credit cards.
The victim said she found Love-Robinson during a computer search for doctors using natural therapies. He always wore a white lab coat and stethoscope in her home, she said.
During one visit, Love-Robinson called for an ambulance when she became too ill.
Morrison told detectives Love-Robinson recommended against bringing her keys and purse to the hospital so she gave them to him and asked that he lock up her home. The woman said she later discovered her bank account was empty.
“I made sure I told (Morrison) I was not a doctor,” Love-Robinson told a detective, moments before cutting off questions and asking for a lawyer.
In preparation for a trial, prosecutors got sworn statements from bank tellers who cashed Morrison’s allegedly forged checks.
One Bank of America teller wrote she encountered “Mr. Love” several times, but couldn’t recall details of the transactions. She did remember that Love-Robinson asked about setting up business accounts, and she found him suspicious.
“I found it very odd that a ‘doctor’ at the age of 18-19 years old runs errands in a white coat, full name badge and a stethoscope,” the teller wrote.
While free on a $26,000 bond on the Palm Beach County charges, Love-Robinson was arrested in Stafford County, Va.
There, he was accused of trying to buy a $35,000 Jaguar from a car dealership by using his 73-year-old godmother’s personal information without her permission.
Love-Robinson pleaded guilty to one count of false statement to obtain credit and a forgery-type charge.
The Virginia judge imposed a 10-year prison sentence but immediately suspended nine years of the term.
Love-Robinson then came back to face justice in South Florida.
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PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): Malachi Love-Robinson