A Mount Vernon couple who used an unproven medical device to treat people with hepatitis and cancer have been sentenced in federal court.

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A Mount Vernon couple who used an unproven medical device to treat people with hepatitis and cancer have been sentenced in federal court.

Donald Brandt, 79, was ordered Friday to spend 30 days in prison and sentenced to four months of home detention. His wife, Sharon Brandt, received five months of home confinement. They were ordered to pay a collective fine of $10,000 by U.S. District Judge Richard Jones.

The couple operated a clinic for several years and offered treatments using a so-called “Vibe Machine,” which purportedly uses radio frequencies to cure disease. Donald Brandt sometimes posed as a doctor, according to court documents.

Sharon Brandt was in charge of scheduling appointments, and allegedly told patients, their family members and undercover state investigators to “keep quiet” about their treatments or the clinic would be in trouble for their “unapproved and clandestine” work, according to state and federal records.

The federal charges stemmed from an extensive investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Washington state Department of Health. The state investigation showed Brandt earned $807,950 in treatment fees since 1995.

At least one person — a 32-year-old Bellingham man — died while being treated by the Brandts with an unproven machine, according to a search warrant.

Donald Brandt treated the man, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer, for more than a year although the man’s physician had recommended immediate surgery to save his life. After refusing surgery and spending several thousand dollars on the device treatments, the man died Dec. 14, 2004, of cancer, leaving a wife and three young children.

“You were a charlatan and fraud, preying on vulnerable victims,” Jones told the couple.

Prosecutors said the “Brandts took advantage of many very sick people who desperately sought some hope as they were dying, taking thousands of dollars from them in their last days.”

Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or mcarter@seattletimes.com