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1-800-GET-THIN brothers investigated by federal, state crime agencies

A billboard claiming that a patient "lost 100 pounds with Lap-Band."
Corey Bridwell/KPCC
A billboard claiming that a patient "lost 100 pounds with Lap-Band."

A federal investigator has confirmed in a court document that several federal and state law enforcement agencies are investigating a variety of possible criminal activities by Julian and Michael Omidi, the brothers behind the 1-800-GET-THIN marketing campaign.

Samanta Kelley, a special agent for the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigations, said in an affidavit that the investigations are looking into whether 1-800-GET-THIN violated a number of federal laws, including "conspiracy, health care fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, tax violations, identity theft, money laundering, and the Food and Drug Cosmetic Act."

The affidavit was filed as part of a criminal complaint against Tiffiny Burrows, a licensed vocational nurse who worked at one of the surgery centers affiliated with the 1-800-GET-THIN campaign. Burrows is accused of trying to sell confidential patient records to an attorney representing the families of two people who died after undergoing the Lap-Band weight loss procedure at Omidi-owned surgery centers.

Burrows has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go on trial Nov. 27 at the federal courthouse in Los Angeles.

It had been previously reported that the LA County District Attorney and the LA Police Department are investigating the death of Paula Rojeski, who died after underoing Lap-Band surgery at one of the 1-800-GET-THIN-affiliated centers.

KPCC has also reported previously that the California Department of Insurance is investigating possible fraud at the Omidi brothers' surgery centers, and that Anthem Blue Cross and Aetna are both investigating possible insurance fraud at the centers.

John Hueston, an attorney representing the Omidi brothers, expressed confidence in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that no criminal charges would be brought against his clients. Dan Chambers, a lawyer for the surgery centers, did not comment on the federal investigation.

Samanta Kelley Affidavit