News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2017
Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES INDICTMENT OF UNLICENSED PLASTIC SURGEON AND LICENSED PHYSICIAN CHARGED WITH ILLEGALLY PERFORMING OVER 60 PLASTIC SURGERIES
After Losing His Medical License, Brad Jacobs Allegedly Engaged In A Four-Year Scheme To Illegally Perform Over 60 Plastic Surgeries And Many Other Additional Procedures In Manhattan With Licensed Physician Nicholas Sewell
Jacobs And Sewell Are Also Charged With Causing Permanent Disfigurement To One Patient; If Convicted, Defendants Face Up To 25 Years Each In Prison
Schneiderman Issues Tips To Protect New Yorkers From Falling Victim To Unlicensed Physician Schemes
NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrests of unlicensed plastic surgeon Brad Jacobs, 56, of Westbury, NY, and licensed physician Nicholas Sewell, 74, of Jackson Heights, NY, on charges they engaged in a four-year scheme to illegally perform plastic surgeries on over 60 patients, including causing permanent disfigurement to one patient. Jacobs, a former plastic surgeon, surrendered his New York medical license in 2007 after the New York State Department of Health charged him with 29 specifications of Professional Medical Misconduct. From September 2012 to June 2016, Jacobs and Sewell allegedly defrauded patients undergoing costly cosmetic surgery procedures – each averaging between $8,000 and $10,000 – by falsely representing that Jacobs was authorized to practice medicine.
“It is unconscionable that an unlicensed surgeon would take advantage of unsuspecting patients like this,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Practicing medicine without a license jeopardizes the lives of New Yorkers, undermines our health care system, and diminishes the work of licensed doctors committed to their patients’ safety and health.”
“The State Education Department’s Office of the Professions investigates allegations of illegal practice in more than 50 licensed professions to help protect New Yorkers,” said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “We are grateful for our continuing partnership with Attorney General Schneiderman and his team of professionals as we work together to ensure the public is protected from the dangers of illegal practice.”
“The doctor-patient relationship is one that is built on trust and when abused can have serious consequences,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “The Health Department is proud to have worked with the Office of the Attorney General to root out those that seek to diminish the responsibility that goes with being a licensed physician. My agency will continue to work to ensure that New Yorkers have access to quality care and will support the Attorney General as he holds these wrongdoers accountable.”
The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that, over the course of four years, Jacobs and Sewell allegedly performed surgeries on over 60 patients, along with scores of additional medical procedures on patients, including Botox and injectables. Many of the individuals allegedly defrauded were either former patients of Jacobs or individuals referred by Jacobs’ former patients.
In order to conceal their illegal activity, the defendants allegedly directed patients to pay either in cash or to write checks payable to a relative of Sewell’s. Checks were then deposited into an account under the relative’s name, although it was completely controlled by Sewell. Sewell then allegedly transferred money from that account to an account under one of Jacobs’ relatives’ names – which was likewise completely controlled by Jacobs. It is alleged that, from the nine witnesses specified in the indictment alone, nearly $50,000 was transferred between the two accounts in an effort to conceal the proceeds of their crimes.
Jacobs was licensed to practice medicine in 1988 and practiced until June 18, 2007, when the New York State Department of Health, Office of Professional Medical Conduct (“OPMC”) invoked its emergency powers to summarily suspend his license and shut down his practice. Jacobs was thereafter formally charged with 29 specifications of Professional Medical Misconduct, including gross negligence, incompetence, and moral unfitness related to his performance of surgeries including breast augmentation, tummy tucks, liposuction, and rhinoplasty.
During the OPMC’s revocation hearing, Jacobs admitted that he could not defend against the charges, and in September 2007, surrendered his license to practice medicine. The Surrender Order entered against Jacobs was extremely restrictive. It not only ordered him to immediately cease the practice of medicine, but it also prohibited Jacobs from representing that he was eligible to practice medicine; providing an opinion as to the practice or application of medicine; occupying, using, or sharing office space in which another physician provides health care services; or sharing or receiving any fee for professional services. Since 2007, Jacobs has remained unlicensed as a physician or as any other medical professional.
Defendant Nicholas Sewell has been a licensed physician in New York State since 1982. In 2011, Sewell procured operating room space at Allure Plastic Surgery, located at 150 East 61st Street in Manhattan. Immediately thereafter, Sewell and Jacobs allegedly began seeing patients and performing surgeries and other cosmetic procedures – falsely representing that Jacobs was authorized to practice medicine.
The Attorney General’s indictment – filed today in New York County Supreme Court – charges Jacobs and Sewell with one count of Assault in the First Degree (a Class “B” felony), one count of Assault in the Second Degree (a Class “D” felony), eight counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a Class “D” felony), nine counts each of Unauthorized Practice of a Profession (a Class “E” felony), two counts of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a Class “E” felony), and one count of Money Laundering in the Fourth Degree (a Class “E” felony).
If convicted, each defendant faces up to 25 years in prison.
Defendants Jacobs and Sewell were arraigned today in New York County Supreme Court before the Honorable Justice Gregory Carro. Jacobs is currently in custody on $4 million bond or $2 million cash bail; Sewell is currently in custody on $2 million bond or $2 million cash bail. The judge also ordered that both defendants surrender their passports.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
In an effort to protect and educate New Yorkers, Attorney General Schneiderman issued the following tips to help avoid falling victim:
- Physicians and Physicians Assistants must be licensed in the State of New York by the New York State Department of Education. If possible, before visiting one of these professionals, confirm their license on the State Education Department’s website – Office of the Professions: http://www.op.nysed.gov/opsearches.htm
- If you are receiving medical treatment out of state, contact that state’s respective licensing authority to confirm that the medical professional is in fact licensed to practice that area of medicine.
If you have additional information regarding this matter, please contact the Attorney General’s office at 212-416-8686.
Attorney General Schneiderman thanked the New York State Department of Education and New York State Department of Health for their valuable assistance in this investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Rhonda Greenstein of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, with the assistance of Legal Analyst Sloane Forbush. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph G. D’Arrigo. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Margaret Garnett.
The case was investigated by Investigator Anna Ospanova under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Sylvia Rivera and Deputy Chief Investigator John McManus. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Investigator Dominick Zarrella. Audit work was performed by Forensic Auditor Alex Ozechowski of the Forensic Audit Section. The Forensic Audit Section is led by Deputy Chief Sandy Bizzarro and Chief Edward J. Keegan.