Doctor sentenced in liposuction death

Prosecutors say physician performed unsanitary surgery on a massage table

updated 5:32 p.m. ET March 18, 2008

WOBURN, Mass. – A Brazilian doctor accused of being part of an underground cosmetic surgery network was sentenced to up to three years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty in the death of a 24-year-old woman.

Luiz Carlos Ribeiro pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of Fabiola DePaula in the basement of a Framingham condominium in July 2006. DePaula died of complications from liposuction surgery.

Ribeiro, 51, of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, was not licensed to practice medicine in the United States. Prosecutors said he performed the surgery on a massage table under unsanitary conditions and did not have a qualified professional present to monitor DePaula’s vital signs, as required.

“By not having that trained person, it substantially increased the risk of serious bodily harm or death,” said prosecutor Lee Hettinger.

Prosecutors said Ribeiro performed liposuction, nose jobs and Botox injections for several years, mostly in Framingham’s large Brazilian immigrant community, where cosmetic surgery is popular among beauty-conscious women.

DePaula, an immigrant from Sanclerlandia, Brazil, went to Ribeiro for a rhinoplasty on July 27, 2006. She went back three days later for liposuction. An autopsy report said she died of complications, including pulmonary fat emboli, or fat in the lungs.

The owner of the home where the surgery was done, Ana Celia Pena Sielemann, was charged with being an accessory, but was deported before prosecutors could bring her to trial. Hettinger said Sielemann recruited women to have procedures done.

Ribeiro’s lawyer, Jeanne Earley, said the doctor has been devastated by DePaula’s death.

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“This is a man who has no previous record, who has only been doing good in his community,” she said. “He made a very, very bad mistake and has paid very dearly for it.”

Ribeiro’s ex-wife, Ana Maria Miranda Ribeiro, who admitted acting as a nurse during the procedure, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in September and was sentenced to one year in prison. She was deported last month after completing her sentence.

Judge Wendie Gershengorn sentenced Ribeiro to two-and-a-half to three years in prison Tuesday. He’s already served 20 months in prison since his arrest, meaning he could be released by January 2009. Ribeiro faces deportation to Brazil once he completes his sentence.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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