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Cosmetic clinic operators guilty

A Las Vegas doctor and his wife were convicted late Wednesday of charges stemming from sales of a knockoff, nongovernment-approved version of Botox to patients who visited A New You cosmetic clinic.

Stephen Seldon and his wife, Deborah, an assistant in his office, advertised Botox treatments and required their patients to sign contracts agreeing to the procedure. But instead of the Food and Drug Administration-approved Botox, Stephen Seldon used the cheaper substance TRItox, according to the government.

Defense attorney Ronald Richards told jurors at the outset of the trial that no patient reported any ailments and they did not believe they were treated with anything other than Botox. Patients testified during the 10-day trial that they were satisfied with Seldon’s work.

But jurors did not seem to buy Richards’ argument.

Prosecutors claimed that the Seldons purchased TRItox which was labeled “For research purposes only, not for human use,” from the company Toxin Research International Inc.

Chad Livdahl, the owner of the Arizona-based company, is serving a nine-year prison sentence for selling the substance to doctors under the guise that it was about to be approved by the government. Patients of Florida physicians who used TRItox became ill from the substance in 2004.

Livdahl, clad in a striped jail uniform, testified last week that he sold the Seldons the drug and when federal authorities began to investigate him, he and his brother assisted the Seldons in erasing data from their office computer.

Livdahl told jurors that he never told doctors that the TRItox was on the verge of being approved.

“We’re not even talking about the FDA; we don’t want to deal with it. We’ll deal with it later,” Livdahl said, explaining his mindset at the time of the sales.

Richards tried to portray Livdahl, who was charged during a previous trial with perjury, as a liar. He said Livdahl tailored his testimony to fit with the government’s argument after reading a newspaper story about opening statements in the trial.

Richards explained to jurors that Seldon appeared at a conference sponsored by Livdahl, but spoke about Botox, not TRItox as he was expected to do. Richards tried to convince jurors that if Seldon was using TRItox, he would have promoted it at the conference.

Livdahl admitted that Seldon spoke about Botox, which angered him.

“We didn’t want to talk about Botox; they were our competitor,” Livdahl said.

Livdahl said the Seldons purchased TRItox vials from them. According to the government, during a one-year period ending in October 2004, the couple purchased 19,000 units of TRItox for $36,925, half the cost of Botox.

Authorities were tipped off about the case when a Botox representative noticed A New You clinic continued to advertise the treatment, even though the manufacturer, Allergan, stopped supplying the Seldons with the substance when they fell behind on their bills.

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at apacker @reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

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