Unlicensed Body Sculpting Business Agrees to Pay $121K

The Orange County and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Offices have reached a civil settlement agreement with Sculptor Body Molding, Inc. and its owners Steven and Monica Ferguson on charges that they engaged in unlawful business practices and false and misleading advertising at their health clinics.

The filing of the civil complaint was the result of an investigation conducted by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation after it was discovered that the defendants were advertising to perform various medical procedures. One of the procedures was called SculptorBody which the company described as a weight-loss “lipo-sculpting” program.

The business advertised that the SculptorBody treatment provided weight loss and body sculpting through the use of various medical devices and cosmetic machines including laser and ultrasound treatments. Customers were asked to pay thousands of dollars for the treatments and were told the program was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and “Members of [the] Medical Board.” Sculptor Body Molding, Inc. operated five clinics in Huntington Park, North Hollywood, Santa Ana, West Covina and Riverside. The company advertised heavily to the Spanish-speaking community.

The Division of Investigation’s Health Quality Investigation Unit, Operation Safe Medicine, conducted undercover appointments at Sculptor Body Molding and investigators were offered medical services including ultrasound weight loss treatments, oxygen injections, and “fat molding.”

These services were offered by staff referred to as “therapists” rather than by a licensed medical doctor or other licensed medical professional as required by law.  None of the weight loss treatments or health advice provided at the business were supervised by a licensed physician and neither of the Fergusons is a licensed health care professional. The civil complaint noted that the advertising and performance of these medical procedures constituted the unlicensed practice of medicine and false and misleading advertising.

As part of the settlement agreement reached on May 19, 2017, the defendants will pay $106,000 in civil penalties that will go into a fund that supports future consumer protection actions by the District Attorney’s Office.  They will also pay $15,000 in restitution to the Medical Board of California for the costs of the investigation conducted by the Division of Investigation.

The settlement includes an injunction which prevents the Fergusons from operating any business in violation of the California Medical Practice Act and from any advertising that includes false or misleading statements to consumers. They are also required to immediately sell or dispose of all ultrasound machines and other medical devices that can only legally be used by or at the direction of a licensed medical professional.


Investigation Uncovers Unlicensed Physicians Operating Medical Clinic

Man and woman treated patients at a Los Angeles urgent care facility.

Charges were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last month against two unlicensed people accused of diagnosing and treating patients at an urgent care clinic in Los Angeles.

Betzabe Wintermute and Chendri (no first name) have each been charged with three felony counts of practicing medicine without a license following an undercover investigation. The investigation revealed the two had been treating patients and prescribing medications at WR Balboa Urgent Care, 937 South Alvarado St., #1D in Los Angeles, even though neither has any professional health care licenses.

Investigators from Operation Safe Medicine, in the Division of Investigation’s Health Quality Investigation Unit, worked with the Health Authority Law Enforcement Task Force (HALT), within the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services to conduct a thorough investigation. HALT Investigators conducted undercover investigations that found both Wintermute and Chendri were diagnosing and treating patients. Chendri also prescribed medications to the undercover operatives.  Investigators from Operation Safe Medicine then assisted HALT Investigators in serving a search warrant at the business.

The investigation also showed that Wintermute, who owned WR Balboa Urgent Care, would hire licensed physicians on a temporary basis in order to obtain their medical license numbers and DEA numbers.  She would allegedly use that information to bill insurance companies and prescribe medications to patients without the physicians’ knowledge.

Investigators found that neither Chendri or Wintermute has ever held a professional license in California.   Wintermute was issued a six-month Interim Permit by the Board of Registered Nursing, but it expired in 2007, and she never obtained a license.

Wintermute has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to appear in court on May 19, 2017.  An arrest warrant has been issued for Chendri, but he is believed to be out of the country.


Unlicensed Southern California Man Charged with Sexual Battery

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Glendale man is accused of illegally performing medical procedures and assaulting a woman 

Antonio Nozar, of Glendale, will be in court on January 25, 2017, to face two misdemeanor charges of sexual battery and three misdemeanor counts of practicing medicine without a license.

Nozar, who owns Smooth Skin Laser Clinic on Broadway in Glendale, is accused of inappropriately touching a female patient during a cosmetic procedure he was allegedly illegally performing.

The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Operation Safe Medicine unit within the Division of Investigation’s Health Quality Investigation Unit conducted a joint investigation with the Glendale Police Department after a victim alleged that Nozar had inappropriately touched her breasts and vaginal area during a laser hair removal treatment in 2015.

The investigation showed that in addition to allegedly committing sexual battery, Nozar had been illegally performing cosmetic procedures. Nozar is not licensed as a doctor, physician assistant or registered nurse. Investigators learned that another woman had reported similar allegations in 2009, but the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges due to insufficient evidence.

Shortly before his arrest in August 2016, a third victim reported that Nozar had touched her inappropriately during a treatment earlier this year.

Physician Hooshang Tabibian, of Los Angeles, has been charged with one misdemeanor count of aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of medicine. Tabibian allegedly accepted money from Nozar in exchange for allowing Nozar to use his name to make the clinic appear legitimate.

The law requires that the patient receive an examination from a physician or nurse practitioner before receiving cosmetic treatments. Tabibian allegedly never met any of Nozar’s victims. Tabibian will be in court on January 25, 2017, at which time the Attorney General’s Office on behalf of the Medical Board of California will request an order restricting Tabibian’s ability to practice as a physician for the duration of the criminal proceedings.

The Medical Board of California has published a list of frequently asked questions regarding cosmetic treatments, which can be read here.

Anyone with additional information about Nozar can contact the Medical Board. Complaints against Nozar can be filed here.

Consumers can file complaints against any Department of Consumer Affairs’ licensees here.

The Los Angeles Times story can be read here.


Jury Trial Scheduled to Begin for Man Accused of Practicing Medicine Without a License on Chronically Ill Patients

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A Jury Trial is scheduled to begin in May in the case of Robert Oldham Young, a Valley Center man accused of practicing medicine without a license and grand theft.

An undercover investigation led by the Division of Investigation’s Operation Safe Medicine Unit and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office found that Young had been using intravenous medications to treat chronically ill patients, despite not having a license to practice medicine.  Patients were charged large sums of money, up to $50,000.00 for Young’s treatments.  Some patients died while in Young’s care at the PH Miracle Center.

On January 24, 2014, Young pled not guilty to eighteen felony charges, including practicing medicine without a license and grand theft.  After a two week Preliminary Hearing in November 2014, a judge ordered that there was sufficient evidence to proceed with a jury trial.  Young will face six felony charges.

Young’s trial is scheduled to begin on May 12, 2015 in San Diego County Superior Court, North County Division, Vista Regional Center, Department 5.

See Medical Board of California’s news release here.