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By Melinda Rogers
The Salt Lake Tribune
First published Aug 03 2011 05:15PM
Updated Aug 3, 2011 11:34PM
A Sandy business owner who allegedly masqueraded as a physician by the name of “Doc Hollywood” has been charged in U.S. District Court with mail fraud.
William Ricker Ferguson, 52, is accused of performing medical procedures without a license and dispensing prescriptions without a license while operating Hollywood Body MD at 7430 Creek Road in Sandy, according to court documents unsealed in Salt Lake City’s federal court this week.
Ferguson injured patients while performing liposuction and other cosmetic procedures, the documents state.
Also charged with mail fraud in federal court is Ashlee Choate, 21, who also allegedly saw patients at the business without proper training.
If convicted of the charges, Ferguson and Choate face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Sandy police started investigating Ferguson and Choate after the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing launched its own investigation after being contacted by victims scarred from services at Hollywood Body.
Ferguson advertised his business as “Utah’s only active and Deep FX facial laser and SmartLipo laser and power assisted procedures,” court documents state. The business offered hair removal, acne treatment, skin rejuvenation, cellulite treatments and spa services.
In one case, a victim identified in court documents as “T.B.” visited Hollywood Body to inquire about liposuction. Ferguson told her that only doctors would perform the procedure, but when she received the treatment over two days on Dec. 27 and 28, 2010, she saw Ferguson doing the procedure after another doctor in the room started “sweating profusely while jabbing [T.B.] with a probe,” court documents state.
T.B., awake while on a local anesthetic, was told by Ferguson that the doctors at the business “get tired, so I’m just helping.”
Choate is accused of consulting with patients interested in the HCG Diet, a weight-loss plan in which patients receive hormone injections. An undercover patient working for DOPL visited Choate and received syringes, needles, alcohol swabs and a prescription for HCG injections, court document state.
Choate allegedly told the patient that if she filled a prescription through the business instead of at a local pharmacy, it would be cheaper. The patient chose to use the pharmacy Choate recommended, which was in Florida. Choate then arranged to have prescriptions sent to the patient from the Florida pharmacy, charges state.
The mail fraud charge for Ferguson stems from checks he received in the mail payable to Hollywood Body.
Ferguson was initially charged in state court with 18 felonies, which included allegations of a victim who received third-degree burns on her face from a laser treatment Ferguson performed. The state case was dismissed in favor of federal prosecution, but another state charge remains against Ferguson for making a false insurance claim, court records show.
Ferguson and Choate are scheduled for arraignments before U.S. Magistrate Brooke C. Wells on Aug. 11.