March 30, 2009: Las Vegas Doctor and Wife Sentenced to Prison for Botox Fraud Scheme
Food and Drug Administration
Office of Criminal Investigations
U.S. Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
March 30, 2009
United States Attorney
District of Nevada
Contact: Natalie Collins
Public Affairs Specialist
LAS VEGAS - A Las Vegas doctor and his wife have been ordered to serve federal prison sentences following their convictions for fraud relating to a fake Botox scheme, announced Greg Brower, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Stephen Lee Seldon, 54, was sentenced to 46 months in prison and three years of supervised release. His wife, Deborah Martinez Seldon, 41, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release. They were also ordered jointly and severally to pay a $144,000 fine. The sentences were handed down on Friday, March 27, 2008, by U.S. District Judge Kent. J. Dawson. The Seldons were convicted by a jury on November 19, 2008, of 14 counts of Mail Fraud and one count of Adulterating a Drug While Held For Sale. Following his conviction, on December 1, 2008, the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners suspended Dr. Seldon's license to practice medicine in Nevada, pending a formal hearing.
From 2003 to 2005, Stephen Seldon and Deborah Seldon operated the medical practice, "A New You Medical Aesthetics" (A New You), at 3663 E. Sunset Road, Suite 303, Las Vegas. From about October 15, 2003, to September 16, 2005, the Seldons offered and advertised Botox injections at "A New You." Botox, used for the treatment of forehead wrinkles and excessive perspiration, is the brand name of a drug derived from Botulinum Neurotoxin Type A, a highly potent toxin. When present in sufficient degree in humans, this toxin can cause botulism. The toxin is classified as both a drug and biological product under federal law, and no form may be distributed for use on humans unless it has been approved by the FDA. Allergan, Inc. is the only FDA approved manufacturer of Botox, therefore, all doctors treating patients with Botulinum Neurotoxin Type A are required to use Allergan's Botox products. The Seldons placed advertisements in local magazines offering Botox at low prices, and represented to their patients that Stephen Seldon was certified and specially trained by Allergan for Botox injections. The Seldons also had patients sign consent forms prior to receiving cosmetic procedures. The forms represented that Stephen Seldon intended to use Botox on the patients.
The evidence presented at trial demonstrated that patients were not receiving FDA-approved Botox at "A New You" and that the Seldons purchased and unlawfully used on their patients an unapproved Botulinum product marketed and sold by Toxin Research International, Inc.(TRI), of Tucson, Arizona. That product, Tritox, was sold in vials labeled, "For research purposes only, not for human use." TRI charged customers much less for Tritox than Allergan charged customers for Botox.
In late November 2004, four individuals in Florida contracted botulism after receiving research grade Botulinum Toxin at a medical clinic in Florida. During an investigation of the incident, TRI literature was recovered during the execution of a search warrant at the medical clinic. As a result, the principal owners of TRI, Chad Livdahl and Zahra Karim, were charged and convicted of Conspiracy and Mail Fraud in federal court in Florida for unlawfully selling almost $2 million of Tritox to physicians and are now serving lengthy prison sentences. The evidence presented in this case demonstrated that the Seldons made a secret purchase of $50,000 worth of Tritox less than two months after the four individuals in Florida became sick and after search warrants had been executed at TRI's business location in Tucson. After the search warrants were executed at TRI's business, the Seldons concealed their fraudulent use of Tritox by falsifying "A New You's" computerized scheduling records and by making false statements to their patients.
Stephen Seldon and Deborah Seldon were ordered to self-report to federal prison by June 26, 2009.
The case was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations and the United States Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Crane M. Pomerantz and Christina Brown.