The 38-year-old naturopath was sentenced to thirteen years in prison after pleading guilty in February to multiple criminal charges, including criminally negligent homicide, practicing medicine without a license, assault and theft.
Police learned that O'Connell might be practicing outside his scope of knowledge when seventeen-year-old Catherine "Cat" Bresina was rushed to the hospital after suffering cardiac arrest while being treated by O'Connell in March 2004; Wheat Ridge officers invaded his clinic and charged him with fourteen criminal counts ("Do No Harm," August 4, 2005).
In addition to what was found in his clinic, prosecutors discovered that O'Connell had appeared as an expert witness in an attempted-murder case, claiming he had a master's degree. In reality, O'Connell attended the University of Wisconsin graduate program for one semester before dropping out.
Investigators also found that most of O'Connell's credentials to practice medicine were questionable. His naturopathy degree came from an unaccredited correspondence school in Alabama. Hung on the walls of his clinic were numerous awards and certificates issued by unaccredited or non-existent institutions.
The controversy surrounding this natural-medicine practitioner has prompted the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies to recommend state licensing for naturopaths, something the department hadn't done before, despite multiple requests from accredited naturopaths.