A fake plastic surgeon charged with a ream of charges, including rape, theft and assault, was found guilty on many of them Wednesday in San Francisco — but jurors failed to convict him on the rape charges, which means he may escape life in prison.
Of the 51 counts against Carlos Guzmangarza, 53, who had no license to practice medicine, he was found guilty of 41.
The charges also included sexual assault, assault, false imprisonment and practicing medicine without a license. He was found guilty of 33 felonies, including sexual battery and digital penetration by way of intoxication.
The jury did not come to an unanimous decision on the rape charge, so Guzmangarza can still be recharged on that count and so could still get a life sentence.
“We put enormous trust in our doctors,” said District Attorney George Gascon. “Impersonating a physician in order to gain that trust, illegally performing invasive procedures, and then taking advantage of these vulnerable patients is a perversion of this noble profession.”
The prosecution characterized Guzmangarza as a man posing as a plastic surgeon who used his position to take advantage of women — allegedly raping one patient and leaving a four-inch needle in another client’s buttocks.
But his defense attorney said he was a man who provided cut-rate but reliable plastic surgery to mostly Latina woman in the Mission, who sought him out despite having no license and never having attended medical school.
“While I am pleased the jury did not convict Mr. Guzmangarza of the crimes that carry life sentences, this case highlights the problem of overcharging by prosecutors,” said Deputy Public Defender Michelle Tong. “Stacking charge upon charge is done to purposely mislead jurors, who are overwhelmed by the mountain of overlapping counts and feel pressure to convict despite insufficient evidence. Mr. Guzmangarza continues to maintain his innocence regarding the sexual assault allegations.”
Arrested in 2011, Guzmangarza took only one semester of medical school in his native Mexico and once worked at Kaiser Permanente. He has no license to run a clinic or credentials to practice medicine.
Starting in 2008, he opened and ran a plastic surgery clinic in the Mission that did liposuction, breast and buttocks augmentation and a face-lift alternative procedure. During that time, according to the prosecution, out of his Derma Clinic on the 2500 block of Mission Street, he masqueraded as a licensed physician’s assistant and took advantage of his clients physically, monetarily and psychologically.
In the narrative painted by the prosecution, eight woman accused Guzmangarza of everything from harming them in procedures-gone-wrong to sexually assaulting two women and raping a third.
One story of his practices tells of his performing liposuction as he smoked a cigar.
“[Guzmangarza] took advantage [of] and abused women in just about every way,” prosecutor Evan Akiron said in his opening statement. “He raped one of them during a medical procedure.”
In her opening statement, Tong called the case an excessive witch hunt by women who willingly went for treatment to Guzmangarza but are now making false accusations.
“Mr. Guzmangarza helped so many people,” said Tong, claiming her client knew what he was doing and provided services to women who would otherwise not have been able to afford the elective treatment they went to him for.
“Mr. Guzmangarza was skilled and trained,” she said later, adding that his lack of credentials was known so there was an “understanding.”