A 45-year-old Atlanta woman admitted Wednesday that she used a downtown Baltimore hotel room to inject exotic dancers with commercial-grade silicone, commonly used in furniture polish, to enlarge their buttocks, according to federal prosecutors.
As part of her guilty plea in Baltimore's U.S. District Court, Kimberly D. Smedley conceded that she earned more than $200,000 giving silicone shots to women for eight years in cities around the country, using glue and cotton balls to prevent leakage.
The case, which broke in October with Smedley's arrest in a Washington hotel, shocked prosecutors and medical professionals, who said the procedure endangered people's lives and poisoned a dancer in Baltimore when silicone seeped into her lungs.
After getting out of the hospital, the dancer, who performed on The Block, downtown Baltimore's adult entertainment district, sent Smedley a text saying, "You almost killed me," according to court documents filed as part of the guilty plea. Prosecutors said she received no reply.
"No one should undergo medical procedures in a hotel room," Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement after the plea agreement was made in court. Prosecutors said Smedley gave similar shots to women in Washington, New York, Detroit and Philadelphia.
Smedley pleaded guilty to transporting misbranded medicine across state lines, and could receive up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced in July. Prosecutor said she bought the silicone from an out-of-state supplier and stored it in unmarked water jugs.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in November that it has been investigating many similar cases around the country as part of a growing trend in black-market cosmetic surgery. The cases include an inquiry into the death of a British woman in a Philadelphia hotel room.
Legitimate buttocks lifts, costing about $4,400 each, are one of the nation's fastest-growing cosmetic procedures, according to previous accounts in The Baltimore Sun. Prosecutors said Smedley charged between $500 and $1,600, in cash, for injections in nine places on each side of a woman's buttocks.
Authorities say that silicone is approved for medical use only for treatment of detached retinas, Prosecutors said Smedley is not a licensed doctor. Court documents say that she used centistoke dimethyl siloxane fluid, manufactured in Georgia, and intended for lubricating metal and plastic, and as an additive for paint and furniture polishes.
The plea agreement filed in court says that she ordered 4,920 pounds of the silicone from one company alone, paying $20,000. Prosecutors said she picked up her final order on Nov. 4, 2011, for $554.
The court documents recount the case that led to her arrest: an exotic dancer from Baltimore who paid $1,000 for a series of four treatments in an unnamed downtown hotel.
The woman saw Smedley in October and December 2010 and in February and March 2011. She got nine shots on each side of her buttocks while "laying on a hotel bed," the court documents say.
Prosecutors said the woman, who is not named, suffered shortness of breath after the final visit and went to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where doctors detected fluid in her lungs and treated her for pneumonia. Two days later, she went to Good Samaritan Hospital and told the staff about the injections.
Prosecutors said doctors had her on blood thinners to remove any clots and that they detected silicone on the sides and bottom of her lungs. "She was diagnosed as having poisoning and toxic effects of silicone with a major risk of mortality,"' the plea agreement states.
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