Operation ‘Cat Eyes’ Targets Illegal Sale Of ‘Misbranded’ And Adulterated Cosmetic Contact Lenses That Pose Risk To Eyesight
LOS ANGELES – Federal prosecutors this week filed a series of criminal charges against Los Angeles-area retail outlets, as well as their owners and managers, that allegedly sold contact lenses without prescriptions – some of which were contaminated with dangerous pathogens.
Two criminal informations filed this morning, as well as four additional informations filed on Tuesday, charge a total of 12 defendants with the illegal sale of decorative and cosmetic contact lenses.
All six cases allege that the defendants sold “misbranded” contact lenses because they were sold without prescriptions.
Two of the cases also allege that the defendants sold adulterated contact lenses that were contaminated with bacteria known as Bacillus cereus. According to court documents, the Bacillus cereus bacterial strain can cause severe infections that, even with prompt treatment, can lead to blindness.
The cases filed this week are the result of Operation “Cat Eyes,” an investigation that was conducted by the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Import Operations Branch of the Los Angeles District Office; the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations; the California Department of Public Health; and the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation, Health Quality Investigation Unit.
Operation Cat Eyes targeted retail stores – some of which were opened specifically for Halloween – that sold cosmetic and decorative contact lenses without a prescription to unsuspecting consumers in Southern California.
Contact lenses – whether corrective, cosmetic or decorative – are considered to be prescription medical devices subject to FDA regulations. Due to the risk of injury, blindness and possible eye infection, all contact lenses require prescriptions from medical professionals who can provide guidance on the proper care and maintenance of the contact lenses.
The six cases filed this week in United States District Court in Los Angeles charge these defendants:
• Halloween and Party Discounters, Inc. (which operated as a booth at the Los Angeles Fair in Pomona); Mike Honabach, 45, of Highland, the owner of Halloween and Party Discounters, Inc.; Intertrade Imports, Inc., a Jacksonville, Florida company; and Eunju Kang Savvidis, 53, of Jacksonville, the manager of Intertrade, were charged today with one count of introducing adulterated devices into interstate commerce for selling bacteria-adulterated lenses at the County Fair (Honabach and his company were charged in two additional counts with receipt of bacteria-adulterated contact lenses and with sale of misbranded contact lenses);
Aspirational International, Inc., a Hong Kong corporation that was charged today with offering misbranded contact lenses for sale at http://www.colorlens4less.com/;
Doris Owusu Ansah, 54, of West Covina, the owner of Sunset Beauty Salon in West Covina, who is charged with selling a misbranded pair of contact lens on October 16;
Jung Rae Jo, 60, of Cerritos, the owner of Fashion Young in Westminster, who allegedly sold four pairs of misbranded contact lenses to two undercover FDA investigators on October 14;
CKL Fashion, Inc. (a Corona-based company that operates T-Shirt Mart in Glendale) and its manager, Young Kim, 51, of La Crescenta, who allegedly sold two pairs of misbranded contact lenses to an undercover FDA investigator on October 14; and
HTS General, Inc. (doing business as the Halloween Superstore on North Glendale Avenue in Glendale; Zinaida Khrimyan, 25, of Glendale, the owner of HTS; and Patrick Abedi, 30, of Glendale, the store manager for HTS, who allegedly sold a pair of misbranded contact lenses on October 14.
All 12 defendants will be issued summonses directing them to appear for arraignments in federal court in Los Angeles on December 9.
All of the charges filed in Operation Cat Eyes are misdemeanor offenses that carry a statutory maximum penalty of one year in federal prison and fines of up to $100,000 for an individual and up to $200,000 for a corporation.
The FDA has issued various warnings against the use of cosmetic contact lenses (for example: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm402704.htm).
Release No. 14-147