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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

BRUCE'S BAD DAY IN BAD AXE: Disgraced Ex-Veterinarian Bruce P. Langlois Takes Deal & Pleads Guilty To One Felony Count Of “Unauthorized Practice Of Veterinary Medicine”; In Return, Michigan Attorney General's Office Drops Two Additional Unauthorized Practice Counts & “Habitual Offender” Sentence Enhancement. Sentencing Set For May 13; Langlois Facing Up To Four Years In Prison

Bruce P. Langlois
BREAKING NEWS: Langlois could jeopardize plea deal by continuing to practice without a license; Michigan Attorney General's office revealed details of one “serious surgery” Langlois allegedly performed in October 2018—in the building that formerly housed his vet clinic! 

Defrocked veterinarian Bruce P. Langlois knuckled under this morning during a plea hearing in Judge Gerald M. Prill's Bad Axe, Michigan courtroom, and took a plea deal. Langlois plead guilty to one count of Unauthorized Practice of Veterinary Medicine. 

Langlois admitted during the hearing that he'd “neutered a cat named Skittles” on December 16, 2016, even though his Michigan license to practice veterinary medicine had been revoked in 2015.

Judge Prill set sentencing for May 13, 2019 at 10:00a.m., and ordered a pre-sentencing investigation report and defendant sentence score. There is no mandatory minimum in this case, and the maximum sentence is 4 years in a Michigan prison and a fine up to $2,000.

In return, the Michigan Attorney General's Office agreed to drop the two additional unauthorized practice charges and not seek a sentencing enhancement against Langlois as a habitual offender. (Langlois has fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct convictions in 1988 and 1995 in Kent County and is on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry.)

But, according to allegations made this morning by Michigan Assistant Attorney General Michael Hayes, in October 2018, Langlois allegedly performed a “serious surgery” on an animal in the back room of his All Heart Pet Care Center (AHPCC). The AHPCC is an animal grooming business that shares a building with Langlois' former veterinary practice, the Animal Hospital of Lowell. (Langlois currently touts his veterinary services on LinkedIn, conveniently omitting the fact he no longer has a license to practice.)

Kent County property records reveal Langlois still owns the building, located at 11610 Fulton St. E in Lowell, and maintains regular access—purportedly for “maintenance”, as he testified this morning.

Langlois has multiple Michigan business entities, including the one shown below, the Animal Hospital and Pet Complex of Lowell, P.C.

Registered at the same address as his former vet clinic and current pet grooming business (11610 E. Fulton in Lowell), the September 2018 filing show below reveals Bruce P. Langlois, D.V.M. offers “Boarding Kennels, Grooming and Low Cost Spay/Neuter” at the location.


On March 1, 2017, former Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced he had charged Bruce Phillip Langlois, D.V.M., with three felony counts of Unauthorized Practice of Veterinary Medicine for allegedly presenting himself as a licensed veterinarian and practicing veterinary medicine with a suspended veterinary license. 

Each charge was punishable by up to five years in jail and/or a fine of $5,000. Langlois, of Lowell, was charged as a habitual offender 3rd Offense. 

“This man repeatedly violated the rules of his profession to the point of his license was revoked but even that was not enough to stop him,” said Schuette. “People like Mr. Langlois who believe they operate outside the law will end up facing the consequences. It is a stark reminder that we must remain diligent and do our research when choosing who to trust with our pet’s health.” 

Langlois was arraigned on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 before Judge David Harrington in 73B District Court in Bad Axe. Bond was set at $10,000. 

Langlois, whose career as a vet is as checkered as the tablecloth in your favorite Italian restaurant, lost his Michigan license in 2015 for negligence, incompetence and “lack of good moral character’’ and later lost a bid to have it reinstated. 

Langlois ran the Animal Hospital of Lowell and a mobile business called Spay Neuter Express. 

A panel of the Michigan Board of Veterinary Medicine in 2015 revoked his license and fined Langlois $25,000 for myriad problems ranging from poor record keeping to inadequate follow-up care. 

Langlois took his case to the Michigan Court of Appeals, saying his license revocation was not supported by “competent, material and substantial evidence.’’ 

In a three-page ruling released Tuesday, February 14, 2017, the Appeals Court disagreed. It upheld the revocation and a $25,000 fine. 

“With regard to inadequate recordkeeping in general, there was adequate evidence (Langlois) kept inadequate records,’’ justices wrote. In a 17-page administrative complaint, the state accused Langlois of negligence, incompetence, lack of good moral character, failure to maintain medical records and failure to arrange for emergency coverage or provide follow-up evaluation on animals he treated. 

In 2016, the Michigan Bureau of Professional Licensing received complaints that defendant had performed “spay and neuter” surgeries without a valid license. An investigation confirmed that Langlois owned a business called “Spay and Neuter Express.” Dr. Duane Fitzgerald, a licensed veterinarian, worked for Spay Neuter Express as an independent contractor and was designated as its attending veterinarian. 

Dr. Fitzgerald described the business as “an ambulatory service that serves remote areas or rural areas for spaying and neutering people’s pets set up in a mobile home that has been converted to a surgical facility.” Langlois was charged with three counts of the unauthorized practice of a health profession, related to performing veterinary surgery in December 2016 while his license to practice veterinary medicine was revoked. 

During a preliminary examination, Dr. Fitzgerald testified that on December 16, 2016, Langlois performed many of the surgeries that had been scheduled for that day, and that he and Langlois performed their respective surgeries in the same general area. 

Dr. Fitzgerald stated that he did not oversee Langlois, and agreed that he did nothing to ensure that Langlois was performing the procedures properly and did not check to see how many procedures he had completed. 

Fitzgerald also believed the animals on which defendant operated were Langlois’s patients, not his. 

Dr. Fitzgerald was aware that Langlois’s veterinary license had been suspended or revoked. He characterized Langlois as “a competent surgeon who possessed the knowledge and skills to perform veterinary surgery.” 

After Langlois was bound over to the circuit court for trial in 2017, he moved to quash the information on the ground that Dr. Fitzgerald, a licensed veterinarian, had properly delegated to him the surgical tasks that he performed. In response, the prosecution asserted that a delegation defense was unavailable as a matter of law, and also moved to preclude defendant from presenting such a defense to the jury. 

After an evidentiary hearing, at which Dr. Fitzgerald testified consistently with his preliminary examination testimony, the trial court denied the prosecution’s motion, stating that there was not “anything within the statutes or rules that say,‘You cannot perform a surgery’ ” and that it was “a question for the jury.” 

Langlois argued before the trial court, and argued on appeal, that there is no specific statute or administrative rule prohibiting the delegation of veterinary tasks (including surgery) to an individual whose license has been suspended, noting that the Board of Veterinary Medicine has promulgated a rule regarding delegation that does not preclude the delegation of tasks to unlicensed individuals. 

In its July 12, 2018, the Michigan Court of Appeals opinion stated Langlois’s argument ignored the fact that MCL 333.16215(1) prohibits a licensee from delegating an act, task, or function that, “under standards of acceptable and prevailing practice, requires the level of education, skill, and judgment required of [a] licensee . . . .” MCL 333.16215(1).” 

At the motion hearing, unrebutted expert testimony by Dr. Dwight McNally, a licensed veterinarian who sits on the State Veterinary Board and was qualified as an expert in Veterinary Medicine, established that the “acceptable and prevailing practice” for veterinary medicine does not allow for the delegation of surgery to an individual who is not licensed at the time. 

Moreover, because his license was revoked for providing substandard care to animals upon which he performed spay and neuter procedures, a determination was made that Langlois did not meet the requirements of a licensee regarding “the level of education, skill, and judgment” required, not only to practice veterinary medicine in general, but to perform the specific task that forms the basis of the charges against him. 

 Langlois disagreed, and on September 6, 2018, his attorney filed “Application for Leave to Supreme Court”. On December 21, 2018, the Michigan Supreme upheld the lower court ruling, allowing the case to proceed. 

FAIT ACCOM-PLEA? NOT SO FAST!

During this morning's plea hearing, Michigan Assistant Attorney General Robert Hayes revealed allegations about Langlois that could jeopardize the deal accepted today by Judge Prill.

In addition to Langlois allegedly performing a veterinary surgery as recently as October 2018, he still drives the Spay Neuter Express bus to its remote clinic locations, leading the average pet owner to assume he's licensed to practice veterinary medicine and provide care.

And, although Langlois had provided pet owners with a 24-hour telephone number if any complications appeared with pets after surgery was completed, after-hours calls are still routed to a cell phone owned by Langlois, and he is the only one with access to the hotline.

As Assistant Attorney General Hayes revealed during this morning's hearing, Langlois “still answers the phone.” Hayes sought additional bond restrictions (Langlois was released on $10,000 bond, with a prohibition restricting him from practicing any form of veterinary medicine). 

Judge Prill, responding to defense attorney Robert Andretz's objections to allegations from Hayes, stated the rules of evidence don't apply when requesting further bond restrictions.

Allowing he would “take it under advisement”, Prill instructed Langlois the Spay Neuter Express emergency telephone number “needed to be changed today!”  Prill told Langlois he was “not to be engaged in any veterinary service”.

Leveling his gaze at Langlois, Judge Prill advised him if there are any additional violations, “we’re gonna have a problem. It it is happening, stop!” 

Langlois is scheduled to be sentenced on May 13, 2019

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