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December 13th, 2006 WW Editorial Staff | Rogue of the Week
 

U.S. Attorney's Office

     
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Sure, people make "mistakes" sometimes. For Dr. Jerome Lentini, his "mistake" was injecting animal-grade, microbe-produced nerve toxins from China into the crow's feet and puckered pusses of Lake Oswego hausfraus.

Earlier this week, Lentini was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison in a plea deal for injecting more than 800 victims with non-FDA-approved Botulinum toxin marked "NOT FOR HUMAN USE" at his "A Younger You" clinics in Salem and Tigard, according to court records. He and his co-defendant, nurse Cathryn Garcia, were ordered to pay more than $330,000 restitution. (Garcia's prison sentence was one year.)

But we think the U.S. Attorney's Office, which prosecuted the case and offered Lentini the deal, is also guilty of some roguish behavior for the deal it entered with Lentini.

Lentini, 58, pleaded guilty to "misbranding with intent to defraud or mislead," namely leading his patients to think they were getting name-brand BOTOX®. According to prosecutors' own sentencing memorandum, the amount of money involved, number of victims, risk of injury and abuse of trust involved in the case made the crime worth between 57 and 71 months in prison. The single count of the 52-count indictment to which Lentini pleaded guilty in his deal carries a maximum penalty of three years.

Yet prosecutors recommended he serve only half that time. "While defendant saved money by using the cheaper toxins, he also charged less than doctors typically charged for legitimate BOTOX—thus limiting his profits," they wrote. "It seems clear that the 18-month sentence is more than adequate to ensure that he never again crosses the line through use of non-FDA approved drugs."

But the deal was also supposed to take into account Lentini's cooperation in the investigation. And a footnote in the sentencing memorandum says he "proved a very difficult witness.... Lentini simply did not have much to say...and the government did not call him as a witness" against Garcia, his co-defendant. Doesn't sound too helpful, does it?

 
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