HAINES CITY (FOX 13) - Police say Manuel Cordova had his neighborhood fooled. Investigators say Cordova posed as a physician for at least two years in Haines City.
"I thought he was a doctor. Because it says Dr. Cordova on the side [of the building]. I thought he was a doctor," said Brian McGee, who works across the street from Cordova's office.
Department of Health investigators say he has no medical license at all, and has been operating illegally in the state for at least two years. Neighboring businesses say Cordova practiced natural medicine and kept unpredictable, appointment-only hours.
"Sometimes, he'd be here in the morning time. Sometimes, he'd be here in the evening. He had a few customers coming in and out pretty regularly though," McGee said.
DOH officials were tipped off about it after one of their employees heard Cordova on the radio. They say he was offering free medical advice to viewers calling into Auburndale radio station 1570AM La Raza. A radio station employee disputes that.
"He was never in a show where he interacted with people listening on the radio. Maybe the people investigating don't know Spanish?" La Raza employee Junior Olivares said Monday.
An undercover state investigator checked into Cordova after hearing about the radio bit, and made an appointment at his office. Haines City police also sent in an undercover officer on a separate occasion.
Both investigators say Cordova diagnosed them with a range of ailments after a few simple in-office exams. The diagnoses included kidney problems, arthritis, high cholesterol, and possible future cases of erectile dysfunction. Both were encouraged to purchase several hundred dollars' worth of natural remedy medications.
Police are unclear how many patients Cordova may have seen over the years.
"Maybe there are more victims that have been prescribed certain medicines to relieve their ailments. Our concern is that they're out there, and if they are please come forward and let us know," Haines City Assistant Chief Brian McNulty said Monday.
Cordova is now facing charges for practicing medicine without a license and scheming to defraud. It's unclear if the radio station will face any penalties.
LINK: You can always check the license and credentials of Florida's health care professionals at www.flhealthsource.gov.