New details in case against local acupuncturist accused of using animal rescue as front for fraud

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New details on a local acupuncturist accused of creating a fake nonprofit to get a tax break on hundreds of thousands of dollars. Investigators said Diana Roman, 43, used an animal rescue as a front for fraud. 17 News obtained the State Franchise Tax Board investigation report, outlining how investigators said the scheme went down. 
     
Records show Roman and her mother registered a nonprofit dog rescue with the state in 2009. 

Roman is accused of claiming she donated nearly $700,000 to her organization, Oliver Rescue Mission, between 2010 and 2013. Investigators said no dogs ever were rescued or rehomed by Roman’s non-existent organization. Instead, investigators said Roman spent the money on her mother’s personal expenses. 
     
Additionally, Roman is accused of not reporting $1.5 million she made as an acupuncturist.

According to records filed with the California Secretary of State’s Office, Roman was a corporate officer and on the board of directors of Advanced Women’s Acupuncture, Inc. during the time in question. The facility was run by Dr. Jason Helliwell, who is on probation with the State Medical Board for a separate issue, limiting his practice. 
     
Advanced Women’s Acupuncture was dissolved in 2013. But Advanced Women’s Health Center continues to operate in the same facility. 
     
In 2015, tax and insurance investigators raided Helliwell’s northwest Bakersfield office. At the time, prosecutors said multiple doctors, facilities and locations in and out of Kern County were raided.
     
Helliwell’s attorney Stephen Larson said Tuesday the state declined to bring any charges. Helliwell has not been arrested or charged. Larson said Helliwell is not involved in Roman’s case.

Roman declined to comment last week. She is scheduled to appear in court in December.

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