Reporting Charles Feldman
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The Los Angeles County Coroner no longer believes the death of a woman undergoing a day-long plastic surgery by a former Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon was the result of an accident, a KNX 1070 investigation has learned.
In an unusual reappraisal of its original accidental findings a year earlier, the coroner’s office changed the manner of death of 61-year-old Sharon Carpenter Nicholson from “accident” to “undetermined,” saying that Dr. Ehab Mohamed “may have knowingly disregarded the safety of the patient.” Mrs. Nicholson died in August 2010.
The amended report says Mohamed performed an all-day liposuction procedure on Nicholson, while still suffering from a self-inflicted wound. The injury had been caused when the doctor performed surgery on himself, one of many such alleged incidents.
The coroner’s report says that physicians, who treated Mohamed over a three-year period prior to Nicholson’s death, had sent letters to the California Medical Board stating that he “posed a risk to patient lives if he continued to practice medicine in his condition.”
Mohamed, an Egyptian national, is currently in federal custody awaiting deportation proceedings.
KNX previously reported that Dr. Mohamed had been in the United States illegally since 2006 when the U.S. State Department revoked his work visa. The federal government says it then lost track of him, even though he had been taking out ads in the Los Angeles Times and other publications advertising his medical services.
The doctor was caught after being busted in an LAPD sting operation that resulted in his recent conviction of attempted grand theft, for which he was sentenced to time served in county jail.
Early on, the LAPD investigator assigned to the case of Nicholson’s death recommended to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office that criminal charges ought to be brought against Mohamed in connection with the death.
But more than a year and a half after the death of Nicholson — the official cause of death is listed as Lidocaine, Fentanyl and Oxycodone toxicity — the DA’s office will only say “the case remains under review.”
However, the potential deportation of Mohamed back to his native Egypt, which could occur in a matter of weeks, could put the doctor out of the reach of local law enforcement should they decide to file criminal charges at a later date.
“I have to draw the contrast to, I guess, Michael Jackson,” said David Nicholson, who was the husband of the deceased patient. “He has a problem, extremely similar to my wife’s, and that guy was arrested; he’s already in jail. What’s fair for one is fair for two.”
David Nicholson was referring to the relative speed in which the L.A. District Attorney’s office filed charges against the pop star’s doctor, bringing him to trial and winning a conviction.
By contrast, there has been virtually no contact, KNX has been told, between the DA’s office and the Nicholson family or their attorney, Robert Stone.
In fact, although the coroner issued its blistering supplemental report on Nicholson’s death on November 23, 2011, the family was only made aware of it last week when KNX obtained a copy of the new report and informed them of its findings.