Commission candidate Kruse's wife is arrested

Her clinic had no doctor and used fraudulent prescriptions, the Health Department says.

By S.I. ROSENBAUM, Times Staff Writer
Published January 24, 2008

TAMPA - The wife of a candidate for the Hillsborough County Commission was arrested Tuesday at her laser hair-removal clinic and charged with medical fraud and practicing medicine illegally, the state Department of Health said.

Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies arrested Rita Moroz Kruse, 45, at her business, Tampa Laser Touch, located in the same Countryway Boulevard complex in Westchase as her husband Don Kruse's campaign headquarters.

Kruse, a Republican, is running for the County Commission in District 6. He is challenging incumbent Commissioner Brian Blair for the party nomination.

The Health Department said Moroz Kruse let students from her electrolysis school work on clients without a doctor's supervision, and ordered medicines from local pharmacies using fraudulent prescriptions.

Moroz Kruse's brother-in-law, Michael Kogan, 49, of Tampa, was also charged with four counts of practicing medicine illegally at the clinic.

Moroz Kruse and Kogan were released on $15,000 bail Tuesday.

The Kruses said the charges were the result of a simple mistake.

The clinic did have Dr. Charles Alvarez on staff, Don Kruse said. But he died in early November.

"We thought we had 60 days to replace the medical director, because he died on us unexpectedly," Don Kruse said.

In fact, his wife said, within two weeks of Alvarez's death, she had found a new physician, Dr. Denis Mikerin. He was due at the clinic to sign his contract Tuesday.

The deputies showed up first, she said.

"I'm not guilty. I always had a doctor, I always did everything the best way, the right way," Rita Moroz Kruse said. "I feel very manipulated and embarrassed in front of all my students. They made me feel like I'm some kind of serial killer."

But Eulanda Jackson, a spokeswoman for the Health Department, said there is no grace period if a laser clinic loses its doctor.

Without a doctor, the clinic can't operate legally, she said, even for a day.

There is also the matter of the medicines Moroz Kruse allegedly ordered by fraud. The Kruses contendthe prescriptions were legitimate, signed by Alvarez's predecessor.

"The doctor did sign them originally," Don Kruse said.

This is not Moroz Kruse's first brush with the law. In 2001, she was charged with several counts of check fraud, but pleaded not guilty and the charges were dismissed.

Now, she faces four charges of practicing medicine without a license; two counts of dispensing drugs without a prescriptions; and 20 counts of prescription fraud.

Her husband said he was concerned about the impact the arrest would have on his campaign.

"But you know what's more important? My wife is more important," he said. "And I'm standing by her side all the way."

S.I. Rosenbaum can be reached at srosenbaum@sptimes.com or 813 661-2442. Times researcher John Martin contributed to this account.