ATLANTA - Deanna Roberts has been sentenced to eleven years and three months in federal prison for illegally injecting persons with liquid silicone and for introducing liquid silicone that was obtained by fraud into interstate commerce. One woman died approximately 36 hours after Roberts performed the injection, after the silicone migrated to her lungs, heart, brain, and other organs. Other victims who received silicone injections by Roberts were hospitalized with respiratory problems when the silicone moved to their lungs. Even after Roberts became aware that the victim died and others had been hospitalized, Roberts continued to obtain silicone illegally so that she could administer silicone to others.
“The defendant was aware that silicone injections she was administering were causing serious harm, even requiring hospitalization, yet she continued to inject paying customers with it knowing the risks that were involved,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn. “Even after Roberts knew that the victim in this case died from the injections she gave her, she did not stop. This case is a shocking reminder that citizens should seek care only from experienced and licensed health care professionals.”
“The FDA has not approved any liquid silicone products to be injected into the body for tissue augmentation, and serious harm, including death, can occur following such injections,” said Justin D. Green, Special Agent in Charge, FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations’ Miami Field Office. “We will continue to aggressively pursue and bring to justice those who endanger the U.S. public health by offering this hazardous procedure.”
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: Liquid silicone is strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and may be legally injected directly into the human body only as a treatment for certain eye conditions. In April 2004, Roberts began ordering liquid silicone from a business in Arizona. In order to purchase liquid silicone from the business, Roberts submitted an affidavit to the company in which she falsely swore that she did not intend to inject the silicone into humans. Rather, she claimed that she intended to supply the silicone to a customer for use in lubricating medical equipment. Between April 2004 and December 2015, Roberts purchased at least 178 gallons of liquid silicone.
Roberts injected the silicone she illegally obtained into the hips, buttocks, and other body parts of her victims. Roberts falsely claimed to them that she was a licensed medical practitioner and that the silicone she used was medical grade. Roberts charged between $300 and $1000 for each silicone treatment that she administered.
During the evening of November 16, 2015, Roberts injected liquid silicone into the buttocks of L.H. The next day L.H. complained of tightness in her chest and shortness of breath, symptoms that are consistent with the presence of liquid silicone in the lungs. During the early morning hours of November 18, 2015, L.H. died. Dr. Geoffrey Smith, Associate Medical Examiner for DeKalb County, performed an autopsy on L.H. Based upon the autopsy Dr. Smith determined that L.H. died from complications due to silicone polymer embolization. Dr. Smith found that L.H.’s lungs were heavily congested with liquid silicone.
In addition, Dr. Smith found liquid silicone in L.H.’s liver, kidney, heart, brain, and spleen. Dr. Smith noted that each of L.H.’s buttocks had 10 injection sites. From a microscopic examination of tissue surrounding one of the injection sites, Dr. Smith determined that a blood vessel had been punctured. The evidence, therefore, established that the defendant punctured the blood vessel with one of the silicone injections and that the silicone was carried by the blood stream to L.H.’s lungs and other organs causing her death.
Also on November 16, 2015, the defendant illegally injected liquid silicone into the buttocks of victim J.T. In November 2014, the defendant injected liquid silicone into the buttocks of victim V.M. and in October 2014, the defendant injected liquid silicone into the face of victim S.P. However, J.T., V.M., and S.P. did not die nor were they hospitalized from their injections.
In 2006, Roberts administered silicone injections to victim J.H.’s lips on three occasions. Also in 2006, Roberts hired J.H. to drive her to Florida where she would administer silicone injections. J.H. worked for Roberts as a driver for about four months. J.H. testified that Roberts was aware that at least one person was hospitalized after Roberts injected her with silicone. J.H. also testified that Roberts claimed that the victim was hospitalized, not because she suffered complications from the silicone injections, but because she was HIV positive. However, J.H. was aware that the victim was not HIV positive.
In 2006, Roberts injected victim S.W. with liquid silicone. Shortly thereafter, S.W. began to feel tightness in her chest and discomfort in her lungs. The next day she passed out at work. S.W. was taken to the hospital and spent the next 31 days there recovering from problems with her lungs. When she was released, S.W. had to use oxygen to assist her in breathing.
In October 2009, Roberts administered silicone injections into victim A.S.’s buttocks at A.S.’s house in Florida. A.S. immediately felt her heart rate accelerate, so she asked Roberts to stop. Roberts then took A.S. to the emergency room. A.S. was admitted to the hospital with respiratory problems and the next day she was placed on a ventilator. A.S. stayed in the hospital 2-3 weeks. While A.S. was in the hospital, Roberts called her to check on her condition. At the same time, Roberts inquired about when she could come by to pick up the payment that A.S. owed her for the silicone injections. While A.S. was still hospitalized, Roberts came to the hospital to pick up a check to pay for the injections. During the visit, A.S. overheard a nurse tell Roberts that A.S. was being treated for silicone poisoning. Since 2013, A.S. has had problems because the silicone that Roberts injected into her buttocks has been coming out of her body. Because of this, A.S. spent another eight weeks in the hospital and has had surgery in an attempt to remove the silicone. As a result, her buttocks are now deformed.
Roberts administered silicone injections to victim D.R., on multiple occasions between 2005 and 2010. In June 2010, Roberts administered silicone injections to D.R.’s breasts and face at the defendant’s house in Florida. Later that day D.R. began to feel nauseous. The following day she went to the emergency room and was admitted to the hospital for treatment for acute respiratory failure. She had to be resuscitated and was placed on a respirator. After spending a month in the hospital, D.R. was released to a rehabilitation facility where she spent several weeks before she could return to her home.
D.R.’s friend, K.M. was present the day the defendant administered the silicone injections that hospitalized her. After D.R. was hospitalized, K.M. informed the defendant that D.R. was in the hospital.
Deanna Roberts, 47, of Sanford, Florida, was sentenced to eleven years and three months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Roberts was convicted on these charges on March 31, 2017, after she pleaded guilty.
This case was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, the Doraville Police Department, and the Atlanta Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys William L. McKinnon, Jr. and Erin E. Sanders prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov (link sends e-mail) or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.