Crime

Atascadero man who claimed to be an audiologist gets a year in jail

An Atascadero man convicted of fraud for pretending to be an audiologist was sentenced Monday to a year in jail.

Aaron Marquis, 46, was charged with insurance fraud after an investigation by the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs concluded that he had passed himself off as an audiologist when he had no education beyond high school.

His 39-year-old wife, Anja Marquis, who billed insurance companies for their office, Advanced Hearing Aid Center, was also charged with insurance fraud. Anja, who served as office manager, received five years' probation Monday plus 13 days in jail, which she has already served.

Their attorney, Trevor Creel, had argued against the year in jail for Aaron Marquis, saying he had no previous criminal history prior to this case and that he needed to help his daughter, who is undergoing physical therapy. But Deputy District Attorney Matt Kerrigan said Marquis repeatedly engaged in illegal billing.

“It’s not simply an accident or a mistake,” he said.

Patients with hearing issues visit a physician for an initial evaluation. That physician then refers them to a medical specialist — either an audiologist or an ear, nose and throat specialist. Those professionals can then determine whether a hearing aid is needed.

When investigators asked Marquis whether he had an audiology education, he allegedly told them he obtained his degrees by correspondence courses from Stamford Hill University in England. Marquis, who called himself "Dr.," was not an audiologist and was not permitted to produce audiology reports, the investigation concluded.

In a Viewpoint opinion piece that Aaron Marquis wrote for The Tribune in 2010 — a month before the Department of Consumer Affairs launched its investigation — he claimed he had worked in the field of hearing care and hearing instrument sciences since 1986.

Neither Aaron nor Anja Marquis offered statements to Superior Court Judge Jacquelyn Duffy before their sentencings.

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