Doctors Behaving Badly: Fake doctor now in jail with a very real bail

Published on
November 18, 2009

Some doctors crave distinction.

They carefully place their many diplomas and certificates on their wall to signal to patients that they are high achievers who can be trusted with surgical instruments and drugs that can cure or kill you, depending on how they are dosed.

Michail Sorodsky craved the distinction of being a doctor. Instead, he now has the distinction of being thrown into jail with a massive bail: $33 million.

Sorodsky has been accused of practicing medicine without a license since 1995 in Sheepshead Bay, a Brooklyn neighborhood. While doing so, he allegedly sexually abused at least eight of his patients.

First question: How does a guy operate on people for 14 years without anyone bothering to check if he has a license? If you go to New York Office of the Professions Web site, choose "physician" under "profession" and type in "Sorodsky," you will get everything you need to know, by which I mean nothing. That "Dr." in front of his name was a mask.

Maybe it is out of sheer embarrassment that the prosecutors argued for, and were able to secure, such a huge bail amount. As the New York Post points out:

No exact records exist, but several experts say Michail Sorodsky's bond is the highest they have ever heard of. "You know what they're basically telling him?" said one. "Screw you. You're not getting out."... His astronomical bail tops even that of such high-flying fraudsters as Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski, who was tried in state court, and Ponzi king Bernard Madoff, who was charged federally. Each put up $10 million of his own cash.

Sorodsky had been released on bail after he was originally charged in 2008. He was required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. He just couldn't keep his hands off it, though. A judge heard from the bracelet contractor that Sorodsky had tampered with it repeatedly. That, coupled with some new allegations, led to a bail that could be mistaken for the production budget of a romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock.

If the indictment is to be believed, this isn't a doctor who should be allowed to wander the streets. He had built a practice by luring Russian-speaking women from immigrant neighborhoods in New York City to his Holistic Spa and Skin Clinic. He told them he could cure cancer. Then he drugged them and raped them, according to prosecutors.

Sorodsky was indicted for first degree rape, unlicensed practice of medicine, first degree scheme to defraud, aggravated sexual abuse in the fourth degree, sexual abuse in the third degree and forcible touching, among other things.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the size of the bail, he could still see some life after prison. He's 62 now, and the maximum sentence is 25 years.

Know your doctor: Doctors with expertise in serious diseases like cancer don't often practice in clinics with fanciful names like "Holistic Spa and Skin Clinic." Even if you see a diploma on the wall, check the medical board for your state to see if the person claiming to be a medical professional actually has a license.