A Jackson Heights couple, who had been masquerading as doctors and performing plastic surgery without a license, pleaded guilty last week to crimes that will likely earn them between two and seven years in prison. They are scheduled to be sentenced on December 18th.
Eliezar Fernandez, 53 and Iris Fernandez, 49, neither of whom has a medical license, admitted that between February and May, they recklessly provided medical treatment to 20 individuals.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown felt the couple’s actions were especially cruel, considering who their victims were. “Their conduct was both reprehensible and dangerous because it exploited the vanity of individuals seeking a younger-looking appearance,” he said. It caused the victims to suffer life-threatening infections and disfigurement.”
The services, which included injecting non-FDA-approved substances into people’s faces, torsos and buttocks, were given in order to improve the appearance of the victims. A number of victims were treated by the couple on more than one occasion.
The Jackson Heights couple was arrested in July after police received complaints from two people who claimed that they had received life-threatening infections during cosmetic procedures. Both victims are disfigured.
The illegal surgery, which included the injection of Hyacell, an anti-wrinkle substance similar to Botox that is not approved for use in the United States, and surgical incisions made to the victims’ faces, took place at the couple’s apartment and at various hotels in Manhattan and at a house in Jackson Heights at 24-17 77th Street.
A search of the couple’s home and car turned up a portable treatment table, several boxes of syringes and various amounts of drugs.
One victim, Freddy Borges, a 47-year-old artist from Brooklyn, received three treatments from the defendants for $300 each on February 28th, March 22nd and April 26th. He allegedly contracted an infection and a fever on the first visit and returned to the couple for additional treatment.
When he returned, Iris Fernandez allegedly made multiple incisions on his face and drained blood from them. She then gave him pills to treat the infection.
When this failed, Borges returned yet again, at which point Fernandez gave him several injections to reduce the inflammation in his swollen cheeks. He has since been admitted to a Manhattan hospital for treatment.
Joan Lusk, 63, a cosmetics salesperson, went through a similar experience. She allegedly receive six treatments from the pair for $600 each for the treatment of wrinkles in her hands and face. She subsequently developed swelling and inflammation in her face and hands and was forced to go to a private physician for treatment to repair the damage caused by the Fernandezes.