A Clark County judge on Thursday slapped the maximum sentence on a husband and wife whose illegal plastic surgery led to the death of a valley woman.
District Judge Abbi Silver sentenced both Ruben Dario Matallana-Galvas, 56, and Carmen Olfidia Torres-Sanchez, 47, to four years and two months to eight years in prison for the death of Elena Caro, 42, a mother of three.
Authorities said Matallana-Galvas and his wife came to Las Vegas from Colombia to operate an illegal medical practice and performed a buttocks enhancement that led to Caro's death April 9.
In August, the couple pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and practicing medicine without a license, both felonies, and conspiracy, a misdemeanor. As part of the negotiated plea deal, prosecutors dropped a second-degree murder charge against the couple.
Caro's daughter, Janet Villalobos, asked for the maximum sentence because the two had abandoned her mother after she had an adverse reaction to a local anesthetic.
Villalobos described how she cries herself to sleep at night.
"Why didn't they help her? They had the chance to save her life," Villalobos said.
Instead of calling 911 or taking Caro to a hospital, Matallana-Galvas and Torres-Sanchez tried to flee the country. They were arrested at McCarran International Airport as they tried to change previously purchased tickets to return to Colombia.
During tearful pleas for clemency, Matallana-Galvas and Torres-Sanchez apologized for what they had done and asked for forgiveness from Caro's family. Both spoke through a Spanish interpreter.
"I was terrified. I panicked," Matallana-Galvas said. "It was a mistake to behave the way we did."
He told the family, "I hope some day with God's help you can forgive me."
Matallana-Galvas also said he took full responsibility for what happened and asked the judge to be easy on his wife, whom he described as a woman with a big heart who fights corruption in Colombia as a government prosecutor.
Torres-Sanchez also asked for the family's forgiveness and said Caro's death wasn't intentional.
"I am very, very sorry," she said.
But Silver would have none of it.
Before sentencing the couple to the maximum prison term allowed, Silver told Matallana-Galvas that a doctor's first role is to do no harm.
"You did harm. You killed her," the judge said.
Silver then called Torres-Sanchez a hypocrite. In her home country of Colombia, Torres-Sanchez fights corruption and upholds the law, but upon coming to the United States, she greedily skirted the law and fled from her responsibility to Caro, Silver said.
"What you did here was morally and legally corrupt," the judge said. "You are the biggest hypocrite in this courtroom."
The autopsy results showed Caro's death was caused by an unusual reaction to lidocaine.
Caro died shortly after Matallana-Galvas injected her with "a gel-type substance" during the illegal cut-rate plastic surgery, which was performed in the backroom of a tile store.
Matallana-Galvas had identified himself as a homeopathic doctor, and his wife, Torres-Sanchez, was a lawyer with the Colombian attorney general's office.
But authorities said that Matallana-Galvas did not have a license to perform plastic surgery in Colombia and that his wife is being terminated from her job as a government attorney in that country.
Family members said Caro learned of the service from advertising at a local beauty salon.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039.