Newport Cosmetic Surgeon Accused of Drug Deals, “Black Magic” Injections, Threesomes

The bad doctor is “in.” (Matt Coker illustration)

A Newport Beach cosmetic surgeon faces serious state medical board discipline for a litany of allegations that include selling addictive prescription drugs out of his office, injecting a “black magic” morphine concoction into himself and a patient-turned-girlfriend-turned wife/office manager, and requiring a massage from a job applicant that evolved into an exam-room threesome.

One of three female patients interviewed by Medical Board of California investigators called Dr. Michael Mario Santillanes’ clinic “bizarre” and constantly in flux. He has been associated with The Skin Care Clinic and Bella Derma Face and Body Sculpting, both at 2503 Eastbluff Dr., Ste. 105, Newport Beach.

The medical board executive director’s accusation against Santillanes alleges nonexistent record-keeping, the reuse of syringes, improper bio-waste disposal, addictive medications picked up by mysterious people, prescriptions of pills split between the physician and patients, and the possible sexual assault of an employee who claims he had gotten her hooked on drugs.

Dr. Michael Mario Santillanes (Twitter)

Executive Director Kimberly Kirchmeyer’s accusation, which is dated Dec. 7, cites a whopping 15 causes for discipline against Santillanes, including false advertising, gross negligence, dishonest/corrupt acts, poor record-keeping, repeated negligent acts, unprofessional conduct, sexual misconduct with a patient, dangerous use of drugs, creation of false medical documents, failure to follow infection control guidelines, repeated failure to attend or participate in medical board interviews, and prescribing/administering controlled substances for a non-medical purpose.

The board staff’s investigation of Santillanes began “amid allegations” that he “had sexual relations with many patients and also administered controlled substances intravenously to patients,” according to the accusation, which adds that “numerous witnesses and patients” were interviewed. Six female employees are cited in the state document.

A woman who began seeing Santillanes in 2011 or 2012 for skin acne was allegedly told during an office appointment that he could also prescribe her Adderall, which led to 14 visits between March 2013 and January 2016. It is alleged she would show up with $100 cash or her credit card and soon leave with pills without being seen by a medical professional.

A patient identified as “R.P.” began seeing Santillanes in 2013 before they began dating and, in October 2014, getting married. Two months later, R.P. was the clinic’s office manager, and her husband would inject her and himself with his “black magic” concoction before they had sex in the office after business hours, according to the accusation.

R.P. also claimed that Santillanes would use sex toys on her while she was passed out naked at home and then send photos to numerous people. She further alleged that he got his office front desk coordinator, identified as “A.B.,” hooked on “salts” (Adderall) and that he boasted of having had a threesome with A.B. and a patient.

Among R.P.’s other allegations are that Santillanes took Adderall daily; tossed used syringes into the regular trash at the clinic (where she never saw a bio-hazard bin); and told her of “up coding” so insurance companies would be billed for more expensive procedures than what he actually performed.

Board investigators also interviewed A.B., who told of dating Santillanes even though she worked in the same office with his wife. She claims the doctor routinely plied her with medications and skin treatments and, after injecting her with morphine or Demerol during a Botox treatment, he began kissing her, “everything was foggy thereafter” and that’s when she believes he possibly sexually assaulted her.

A.B. also alleged that she was part of a group of people for whom Santillanes would write Adderall prescriptions, only to keep some or all the pills himself. The group was said to have also included A.B.’s sister and R.P. Santillanes and A.B. constantly abused alcohol and drugs and used code words for pills such as “salts,” “Skittles” and “candy,” she claimed. The doctor often injected her with medications at the office, she alleged, adding that once she became so sick afterward that she believed she was overdosing.

The interview of A.B. produced a reference to R.P. becoming Santillanes’ “ex-wife,” but they were together at the physician’s house when A.B. says he injected his ex before they got in an argument and he told her to leave, even though she was too intoxicated to drive. Santillanes “indicated he did not care,” A.B. told investigators.

Vials of Demerol were all over Santillanes’ home, office and inside his car, and he sold Vicodin and Adderall out of his clinic, according to A.B., who recalled a Russian female and various people with backpacks being among the customers.

When A.B. tried to quit drugs and booze because her hands were shaking, Santillanes made fun of her, according to the former staffer/girlfriend, who quit her job and him in January 2016. After leaving the clinic, and following a stay at a drug rehab facility, A.B. discovered the federal Drug Enforcement Agency had served a search warrant at Santillanes’ office, and a pill bottle was found in his car after police pulled him over, she told investigators.

The accusation identifies a March 2016 clinic office manager/Santillanes girlfriend as “B.S.,” who arranged for an acquaintance named as “H.L.” to essentially interview for a job there by giving the doctor a massage and, if he liked it, she would be hired. H.L. told board investigators of being led to a room where Santillanes was on the exam table, and when she began the massage, he and B.S. started touching her and that led to a threesome.

That was obviously enough to get hired, and while working at the clinic, H.L. was often given Vicodin, Xanax and Adderall by B.S. to get high, H.L. told investigators, who were also informed that when she went to what was then B.S. and Santillanes’ residence near the end of March 2016, B.S. gave her wine and the same drug combo. “H.L. said the she was in a fog after that and does not remember how she got to the bedroom,” reads the accusation. “She recalled that the three of them had sex, but she felt like she was unable to move.”

An “R.R.,” who began working at the clinic in early 2016 “after the entire office staff had quit,” told investigators that Santillanes would often come on to her when B.S. was away, prompting her to inform him that was “unprofessional.” Among the oddities she noticed at the clinic were used needles being kept in a brown box or left in metal dishes for long periods of time.

An “A.S.,” who began working as a back office employee at the clinic in the spring of 2016,  claims in the accusation that she saw: charts piling up; a stressful environment; dates being changed on insurance billing claims (something A.S. says she refused to participate in once she discovered that’s illegal) ; and procedures being back dated if the patient’s insurance was nearing its expiration date.

R.R. and A.S. alleged separately that Santillanes: used the same needles on multiple patients; dumped fat and blood from patients into toilets; watered down derma filler; and billed insurance companies for injections of varicose and spider vein treatments when he had actually injected filler. Both witnessed people with backpacks arriving at the office, paying hundreds of dollars, walking to the back of the office with Santillanes and leaving with drugs. These transactions were not reflected in medical charts, the clinic employees added.

A.S. also told of sexual innuendos spewed by the doctor, who inappropriately touched other female workers. She also confirmed what other employees alleged about B.S. arranging for them to get prescription medications that would be given to Santillanes, who she witnessed taking pills throughout the day.

“A.P.,” who worked at the clinic from November 2016 to January 2017, claimed as other accusers had that Santillanes injected her with Botox at work and that controlled substances were kept in an unlocked cupboard in the office. She alleged the doctor offered her wine when she worked late and invited her over to his house. She also mentioned patient complaints about treatments being ineffective or watered down.

Board investigators say that when Santillanes was served with an administrative inspection warrant in August 2016, he was unable to provide invoices or log sheets regarding controlled substances in his office, where there also was no inventory of the medications. Given a list with 12 patient names, Santillanes was only able to produce a chart for one of them, according to the accusation, which adds the doctor admitted to investigators that he did not keep records for every patient and that he prescribed Adderall to a select few with Attention Deficit Disorder.

B.S., who was present during the inspection and identified herself to investigators as Santillanes’ girlfriend, confirmed he had provided her Adderall multiple times, something that was later confirmed on state Department of Pharmacy Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) reports that also showed him having prescribed her controlled substances, including opioids, numerous times between July 2015 and February 2018.

Board investigators also interviewed patients, including an “F.A.” who had a bad reaction to a filler injection in her nose from Santillanes. Excessive bleeding, throbbing pain, bruising, a swollen eye and cheek and white forehead spots caused F.A. to repeatedly try to contact the doctor to no avail. She wound up seeing another dermatologist who indicated she suffered from a common adverse reaction to an injection. When the patient next saw Santillanes, he downplayed the seriousness of her adverse reaction, but when a board investigation into the matter was launched, the doctor skipped two scheduled board interviews, according to the accusation.

An “S.B.” claimed Santillanes told her a neck lift would be “non-invasive, quick and easy,” but after he gave her Xanax, had her sign a consent form and did the procedure, her neck was left deformed and looking, as she said, “horrible,” alleges the accusation. She attributed black eyes and a fat lip to injections and liposuction she had never consented to because of past negative reactions to fillers. The doctor maintained she had consented, but S.B. says A.B. told her afterward that she did not believe the patient knew what she signed up for after taking the Xanax.

Medical board staff alleges Santillanes falsely advertised himself as being a board certified cosmetic surgeon, including posting an American Board of Medical Specialties member symbol, when he was not board certified. That is born out on this groupon:

“Overseen by board-certified cosmetic surgeon Dr. Michael Santillanes—whose UCLA and USC credentials have also led him to instruct fledgling surgeons in his specialties—The Skin Care Clinic’s staff unlocks the inherent natural beauty in clients with age-defying services. They specialize in minimally invasive cosmetic procedures, including injectables and dermal fillers such as Botox and Restylane, chemical peels, and photo rejuvenation. They also refine entire bodies through laser hair removal, scar removal, and VelaShape cellulite-removal treatments that, like a shy SWAT team, are also minimally invasive.”

Kirchmeyer is seeking a state medical board hearing to determine whether Santillanes’ license to practice medicine in California should be revoked, suspended or placed on probation.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

6 Replies to “Newport Cosmetic Surgeon Accused of Drug Deals, “Black Magic” Injections, Threesomes”

  1. I actually went here a couple of years ago. It was a very strange experience. I bought a groupon for botox and wanted to try it out. I met with this doctor but he did not do the injections. It was a woman that was brazillian, from the way it sounds in this article it must have been one of the women he was involved with. She did not seem like a medical professional. I thought she looked like a model and had had many procedures. She was trying to talk me in to fillers etc. Her and the doctor were just very strange people to me and they had a lot of work done. Not the typical doctor’s office vibe at all. I’m kind of concerned about the reusing of syringes part of the article. What happens to patients who could have been subjected to reused syringes?

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