OLD BRIDGE – Two South River residents were arrested last Friday for allegedly performing acupuncture on patients without a license, following a joint investigation conducted by the State Division of Consumer Affairs and the Old Bridge Police Department, with assistance provided by the Perth Amboy Police Department.
Pedro Paulino, 47, and Merly Quijije, 26, both residents of South River, were charged with unlicensed practice of acupuncture, a third-degree crime. Both were held at Middlesex County Jail following their arrests and subsequently released after each posted $50,000 bail, with no 10 percent option.
Paulino and Quijije were arrested at The Integrative Naturopath Research Training and Assistance Center on White Oak Lane in Old Bridge. This case is believed to be the first prosecuted under the 2009 state law which prohibits the practicing of acupuncture without a license, authorities said.
“Licensure requires meeting educational and training standards, both of which are designed to protect the public. These two defendants allegedly deceived patients by misrepresenting themselves to be licensed acupuncturists, which they aren’t,” Attorney General Paula T. Dow said.
Investigators with Consumer Affairs’ Enforcement Bureau have recently conducted joint investigations with local police departments of unlicensed individuals offering dental and medical procedures, and of licensees who allegedly committed crimes including the sale of prescriptions for painkillers without medical justification.
“I want to commend the Old Bridge and Perth Amboy police departments for working with us to safeguard the public. Unlicensed people piercing someone’s body with acupuncture needles is an obvious risk, one that we will not tolerate. We’re ready to work cooperatively with all enforcement agencies when the public’s health, safety and welfare are threatened,” said Thomas R. Calcagni, Acting Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs.
“This was a time and resource-intensive investigation. The detectives and investigators have done superior work to uncover an operation lurking in the shadows of our community,” said Detective Captain Robert V. Weiss Jr. of the Old Bridge Police Department.
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