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.


Federal Charges Brought for Illegal Sale of Prescription Medications

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An Orange County man was arrested last week for the illegal sale of prescription medications.

Sean Gerson, of Laguna Hills, was taken into custody on December 13, 2016, following a lengthy investigation into his illegal sales of prescription medications. Gerson allegedly used multiple websites to sell misbranded veterinary medications including antibiotics and flea treatments. The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Gerson with one felony and one misdemeanor count for misbranding and dispensing drugs without prescriptions and his bail has been set at $25,000.

Gerson’s arrest was the result of years of investigation by both federal and state agencies. Gerson was investigated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, and the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation San Diego Field Office, California Veterinary Medical Board and California State Board of Pharmacy.

Gerson was previously convicted of similar state charges in Texas in 2014.

In California, Gerson was allegedly operating a pharmacy without a valid pharmacy license, selling drugs without prescriptions and was using the names of licensed veterinarians, without their knowledge, in order to obtain the drugs he was selling. There were also allegations that he had misrepresented himself as a veterinarian.

Information was referred to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office in 2013, but they declined to file criminal charges. Gerson has faced civil lawsuits in Orange County from the Department of Pesticide Regulation and from the various companies that provided him with the products he sold.

The Division of Investigation worked closely with the Federal Drug Administration to obtain the evidence needed for the criminal charges.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office news release can be read here.

Information about the California Department of Pesticide Regulation cases can be read here.


DOI Investigations Round Up – September and October

The goal of protecting consumers is paramount to the staff of the Department of PrintConsumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation (DOI).  DOI works closely with District Attorneys’ Offices and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that goal is met.

Below are updates on three previously posted cases which were investigated by the staff of the Investigation and Enforcement Unit’s San Diego Field Office, Chatsworth Field Office and the Health Quality Investigation Unit’s – Tustin Field Office.

Dr. Jeffrey Joel Abrams

On September 25, 2015, a San Diego physician who sexually assaulted female patients – one victim was eight-years old – and took explicit photographs of them with his cellphone at an El Cajon clinic for low-income patients, was sentenced to one year of house arrest and five years probation.  Also, Dr. Jeffrey Abrams, 68, must register as a sex offender.  Abrams’ license to practice medicine has been suspended by the Medical Board of California since October 2014.

Read previous story here.

Hector Menjivar

A Southern California man known as “Doctor Hector” was convicted of practicing veterinary medicine without a license.  On October 7, 2015, Hector Menjivar was sentenced to serve 30 days in county jail, 36 months of probation, complete 500 hours of community service, attend 16 animal cruelty counseling program sessions and he must avoid the Holiday Humane Vet Clinic in North Hollywood.

Read previous story here.

Kim Anna Arvdalen

The owner of  The Chocolate Day Spa in Orange County, who was charged with conspiring and aiding and abetting in the unlicensed practice of medicine, entered a guilty plea on September 24, 2015.  Kim Arvdalen is required to pay restitution in the amount of $8,000 and serve 100 hours of community service.  Arvdalen will also be required to serve three years of informal probation.

Read previous story here.


Day Spa Owner Charged with Aiding in the Unlicensed Practice of Medicine

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The owner of a day spa has been charged with a felony after a customer was burned during treatment.

Kim Anna Arvdalen, owner of The Chocolate Day Spa, has been charged with one felony count of conspiring and aiding and abetting in the unlicensed practice of medicine.  The spa, which was located on Bristol Street in Costa Mesa, is now closed.

Arvdalen’s co-conspirator, registered nurse Mary C. Lamb, was charged with one felony count of practicing medicine without a license.  Since the filing of criminal charges, Lamb has passed away.

The felony charge against Arvdalen was filed by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office after an investigation conducted through the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation by the Health Quality Investigation Unit Tustin Field Office.

The investigation stemmed from a consumer complaint that was sent to the Medical Board of California.  The complaint alleged that a patient was burned and scarred after receiving intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment from Lamb at The Chocolate Day Spa.

When the patient later obtained copies of her medical records, they contained a release form she denied signing.  The release form was co-signed by the spa’s medical director, Dr. James McVeigh, who died one month before the form was purportedly signed.

Lamb admitted that she had performed both IPL treatments and laser hair removal on the patient without the patient receiving a medical evaluation from McVeigh or from any other physician as required by law.  Registered nurses may only perform these treatments while working under the supervision of a physician and only after the patient has been evaluated by that physician.

Arvdalen was licensed as an esthetician from 2004 to 2012, but her license is currently delinquent.  She pleaded not guilty on July 8, 2015.  She will be in court again on September 24, 2015.