Press Releases

Bronx Woman Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To One Year In Prison For Conducting Underground Silicone Injection Business

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday June 25, 2012

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that WHALESCA CASTILLO was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to forfeit $100,000 for charges stemming from her illegal injection of liquid silicone into women’s buttocks, as part of an underground business she ran out of her Bronx home.  CASTILLO was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by U.S. District Judge Leonard B. Sand.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Whalesca Castillo’s underground ‘augmentation factory’ endangered women’s health and lives.  She remained open for business even after pleading guilty, demonstrating a blatant disregard for the danger to which she was exposing the women whose money she took, and for the law.  She will now be punished for her crimes.”

According to publicly-filed documents and statements made in Manhattan federal court:

Although the FDA has approved certain forms of silicone for cosmetic use, it has prohibited the injection of liquid silicone or silicone gel to fill wrinkles or augment tissues anywhere in the body for public health and safety reasons.  Tissue augmentation using injectable fillers such as silicone has resulted in death and serious injuries in both the United States and abroad, especially when injections are performed by unlicensed practitioners outside a clinical setting.  Risks associated with such injections include permanent lumps within the skin, infection, skin ulceration, and potentially fatal pulmonary blood clots.

Since at least 2009, CASTILLO, who does not hold a medical or nursing license of any kind in New York State, has imported liquid silicone from the Dominican Republic and administered injections to women for buttocks enhancement.  She administered these injections in her Bronx home, representing to her clients that they were safe, and charging them hundreds of dollars per injection.  One woman, who paid CASTILLO $1,000 for injections, experienced pain and shortness of breath following the procedure, and fainted within hours.  When the woman called CASTILLO to report her medical symptoms after being revived by her boyfriend, CASTILLO discouraged her from seeking proper medical attention, saying that a hospital would not help her because the procedure was illegal.

In November and December 2010, federal agents, working together with the New York City Police Department and the New York City Department of Sanitation, Environmental Police Haz-Mat Unit, recovered numerous trash bags in the vicinity of CASTILLO’s home.  The trash bags contained over 100 bottles, some of which contained silicone residue on them, syringes, needles, bloodied gauze, and dozens of tubes of Krazy Glue, which unlicensed practitioners sometimes use to seal puncture wounds.

CASTILLO pled guilty on September 27, 2011, before Judge Sand, and was released on bail.  On January 18, 2012, Judge Sand revoked bail and remanded CASTILLO based on evidence that even after pleading guilty, CASTILLO continued to administer silicone injections.

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In addition to the prison term and forfeiture, Judge Sand sentenced CASTILLO, 38, to one year of supervised release and ordered her to pay a $100 special assessment fee.

Mr. Bharara praised the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, the New York City Police Department, and the New York City Department of Sanitation for their work in investigating this case.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Lai is in charge of the prosecution.

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