County School Board Trustee Belle admits to, fined by state for claiming to be a Respiratory Care Practitioner without a license

Jeff Belle, courtesy of the Contra Costa County School Board

Jeff Belle, courtesy of the Contra Costa County Board of Education

By Allen Payton

Research by Barbara Zivica, a regular, contributing columnist for the Herald, revealed that on August 17, 2015, following an investigation by the California Medical Board that began in 2010 and a prosecution by the California Attorney General’s office, Contra Costa County School Board Trustee Jeff Belle admitted he “is not now, nor has ever been, licensed by the Respiratory Care Board of California” and agreed to pay a fine of $8,200 in a settlement.

According to the Stipulated Citation and Order, before the Respiratory Care Board, Department of Consumer Affairs, State of California, Belle violated “Business and Professions Code section 3760, subdivisions (a) and (c) and 3761, subdivision (a), by misrepresenting himself as a respiratory care practitioner and engaging in the practice of respiratory care without a current and valid license in California.”

Those sections state “no person shall represent himself or herself to be a respiratory care practitioner…or use the abbreviation or letters ‘R.C.P.’…without a current and valid license issued under this chapter” and “granted under this chapter, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.” The maximum penalty for doing so is $15,000.

According to the Cause for Citation, Belle applied for a license as a respiratory care practitioner in California on December 24, 2010 and completed the “Board’s Statement of Understanding acknowledging he understood the following:

‘During the application period, the applicant shall be identified as a ‘Respiratory Care Practitioner Applicant’ and may only practice with a valid work permit while under the direct and immediate supervision of a licensed respiratory care practitioner.’

‘No person who has not been licensed by the Board shall engage in the practice of respiratory care despite holding a CRT or RRT credential.’

‘No person shall engage in the practice of respiratory care or represent him/herself as such through verbal claim, sign advertisement, letterhead, business care, badge/name tag, or representation unless he or she holds a valid license issued by the Board.’”

Yet, the Citation further states that “Jeffery Johura Belle was and is not licensed to practice respiratory care in the State of California nor was ever issued a work permit. On May 23, 2015, Subject’s (Belle’s) application for licensure was deemed abandoned as he failed to complete the application process.”

The investigation conducted by the California Medical Board, whose findings were forwarded to the state Respiratory Care Board, found that Belle “was owner and Chief Executive Officer of the business, Respiratory Clinical Institute (RCI), which provided tutorial and clinical rotation services to students who were completing their respiratory care studies using an online program. On March 2, 2012, the Subject appeared for an interview with the Medical Board investigator wearing a white lab coat, a name badge and a stethoscope. During the interview, the Subject introduces himself as Jeffery Belle, Respiratory Care Practitioner. On the lab coat was an embroidered patch and name badge that identified the Subject as ‘RCP.’ Subject also provided advertising and contractual/student materials to the investigator. Within the signature block of the Tutorial Agreement between RCI and the Student, the Subject is identified as an ‘RCP.’

During the interview, the Medical Board investigator informed Belle that “he was illegally representing himself as a respiratory care practitioner and again educated the Subject with the laws that govern the practice of respiratory care in the State of California.”

Belle then “signed an affidavit on March 30, 2012, stating he would no longer represent himself as a respiratory care practitioner in California.”

As part of his settlement with the state, Belle was ordered to “immediately cease and desist any and all unlicensed activities pursuant to the Respiratory Care Practice Act” and to “pay civil penalties in the amount of $8,200…to the Board” for “misrepresenting himself as a respiratory care practitioner and engaging in the practice of respiratory care in California without a valid license.”

He is to make payments of $136.66 per month for five years from the date of the decision and if Belle “fails to make a monthly payment, the remaining amount of costs shall be immediately due and payable,” that the “filing of bankruptcy…shall not relieve (him) of his responsibility to reimburse the Board” and “the Board will collect cost recovery from the Franchise Tax Board, Internal Revenue Service, or by any other means of attachment of earned wages legally available to the Board.”

In spite of the citation and order, and Belle signing the affidavit in 2012, as of January 6, 2016, on his LinkedIn account it states the following:

President/Senior Lecturer

Respiratory Clinical Institutes

January 2008 – April 2011 (3 years 4 months)Sacramento, Contra Costa County, San Francisco, Palo Alto, Oakland

Company founder and leader in training respiratory care students through clinical rotations, clinical coordination and partnerships. Established and Trained over 100 students at 10 clinical sites. Attained a student passage rate on National Board Exams of 93 percentile. The Gold Standard in Clinical Education!

Respiratory Care Specialist ( RRT)

Registered Lobbyist and Contract Practitioner

January 1999 – 2008 (9 years)CA, WA, OR, AR, TX, AZ, OK, NM,VI

Served as contract therapist with a speciality in adult critical care and pulmonary diagnostics at various hospitals, clinics and outpatient medical facilities from the U. S. Virgin Islands to Northern California. In addition, I worked as a contract lobbyist in Washington, D.C. for various companies.

Prior to entering the race for County School Board, in 2014, Belle claimed to have been licensed in other states as a respiratory care practitioner and stated he didn’t need a license in California in order to teach in the state, since he wasn’t actually practicing medicine, and that only his students were.

Belle is currently being prosecuted by the Contra Costa District Attorney for lying on his candidate ballot statement, during his 2014 election to the County School Board and faces a maximum fine of $1,000 for that violation if found guilty. Belle stated he had a “Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science,” but had not completed his course work, according to the college. He has pled not guilty and his next court date is set for 8:45 a.m., February 11, 2016 in Martinez. For more information about that case click here.

Barbara Zivica contributed this report.

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2 Comments to “County School Board Trustee Belle admits to, fined by state for claiming to be a Respiratory Care Practitioner without a license”

  1. Wayne Steffen says:

    How do we remove this man from office? Does it require a recall campaign?

  2. Marty Fernandez says:

    Thanks for the update Allen. Mr Belle is a criminal and should be in jail. He has a trail across America so to speak.

    He must be forced to resign or removed from the Board.

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