LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Half a dozen Southern California businesses face federal charges of selling contact lenses without prescriptions, authorities said Friday.
The 12 defendants charged in six federal cases with the illegal sale of decorative and cosmetic contact lenses was the result of Operation “Cat Eyes,” an investigation conducted by several local and federal health and consumer agencies, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Thom Mrozek said.
The operation targeted retail stories, some of which were opened specifically for Halloween, that sold cosmetic and decorative contact lenses without a prescription to unsuspecting consumers in Southern California.
In two of the cases, authorities say the defendants sold adulterated contact lenses contaminated with bacteria known as Bacillus cereus, which can cause severe infections that, even with prompt treatment, can lead to blindness.
Contact lenses, whether corrective, cosmetic or decorative, are considered to be prescription medical devices subject to FDA regulations, federal officials said. Due to the risk of injury, blindness and possible eye infection, all contact lenses require prescriptions from medical professionals who can give instructions on the proper care and maintenance of the contact lenses.
Halloween and Party Discounters, Inc., which authorities say operated as a booth at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona; Mike Honabach, 45, of Highland, the owner of Halloween and Party Discounters, Inc.; Intertrade Imports, Inc., a Jacksonville, Fla. Company; and Eunju Kang Savvidis, 53, of Jacksonville, the manager of Intertrade, were charged with one count of introducing adulterated devices into interstate commerce for selling bacteria-adulterated lenses at the county fair. Honabach and his company were also charged with two more counts with receipt of bacteria-adulterated contact lenses and with sale of misbranded contact lenses.
Aspirational International, Inc., a Hong Kong corporation, was charged 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, was charged with selling a misbranded pair of contact lens on Oct. 16.
The owner of Fashion Young in Westminster, 60-year-old Jung Rae Jo, of Cerritos, allegedly sold four pairs of misbranded contact lenses to two undercover FDA investigators on Oct. 14.
CKL Fashion, Inc., a Corona-based company that operates T-Shirt Mart in Glendale, and its manager, Young Kim, 51, of La Crescenta, were charged with selling two pairs of misbranded contact lenses to an undercover FDA investigator on Oct. 14.
HTS General, Inc., which does business as the Halloween Superstore on North Glendale Avenue in Glendale; owner Zinaida Khrimyan, 25, of Glendale and store manager Patrick Abedi, 30, of Glendale, were charged with selling a pair of misbranded contact lenses on Oct. 14.
Each of the 12 defendants have been order to appear in federal court for arraignment on Dec. 9.
All of the charges filed in Operation Cat Eyes are misdemeanor offenses that carry a statutory maximum penalty of a year in federal prison and fines up to $100,000 for an individual and up to $200,000 for a corporation.