HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA.com) — A former dean of the USC’s Keck School of Medicine is accused of being linked to a scandal that involves illegal drugs, a prostitute and partying with teenagers.
A woman who said she had worked as a prostitute in Huntington Beach claimed Dr. Carmen Puliafito, 66, paid for her living expenses and bought her drugs.
The world-renowned eye surgeon was the focus of a Los Angeles Times report, which claimed he had a “circle of criminals and drug users who said he used methamphetamine and other drugs with them.”
In March 2016, a woman overdosed in his presence in a Pasadena hotel room, according to the newspaper.
The Pasadena Police Department released a 911 call that came in from the Pasadena hotel.
Caller: My girlfriend here had a bunch of drinks, and uh, she’s sleeping.
Operator: Is she breathing right now?
Caller: Yes, she’s absolutely breathing. Absolutely, she is.
Operator: Is she vomiting at all?
Caller: No. She’s sick. She was sitting up in bed and passed out. So, I mean, I’m a doctor, actually. So …
Operator: OK. All right.
The woman was taken to a hospital and recovered.
A Pasadena city spokesman said no charges were filed because the overdose was not fatal.
The young woman told the Times “she met Puliafito in early 2015 while working as a prostitute. She said they were constant companions for more than a year and a half, and that Puliafito used drugs with her and sometimes brought her and other members of their circle to the USC campus after hours to party.”
In one video, the ophthalmologist displayed an orange pill on his tongue and spoke to a camera saying: “Thought I’d take an ecstasy before the ball,” according to the newspaper.
“He is currently on leave from his roles at USC, including seeing patients. If the assertions reported in the July 17 Los Angeles Times story are true, we hope that Carmen receives care and treatment that will lead him to a full recovery,” a USC statement said.
The physician’s website also said he was not accepting or seeing patients.
Puliafito resigned from his post in March 2016, saying he wanted to explore other opportunities. He was making $1.1 million a year, the Times reported.
CBS2’s Jeff Ngyuen reached out to Puliafito for comment but he declined to respond.
According to the California Medical Board, the doctor has a clean record.