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Probe of skin cream sales leads to Thonotosassa mansion

THONOTOSASSA — Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating the sale of prescription skin products from behind the walls of a $1.4 million mansion in Thonotosassa.

The goods, which sell for as much as $94 a tube, promise to smooth fine lines and wrinkles. The issue? They require prescriptions, according to an affidavit recently filed in court. The document states that undercover investigators obtained several face creams without a prescription.

The Hillsborough Sheriff's Office said it is investigating a case where at least one person may have been illegally obtaining and distributing prescription medicines, spokesman J.D. Callaway said. He would not provide specifics, saying it's an active investigation, and no arrests have been made.

Several attempts to reach representatives of the company named in the affidavit, Complete Skin Care, were unsuccessful.

According to an affidavit the Sheriff's Office filed in court, its five-month investigation started with a tip to a Florida Department of Health investigator. The tipster said several Florida-based websites were selling prescription skin care products to people without prescriptions, the affidavit states.

Investigators ordered the creams and entered them as evidence. A deputy went undercover as a postal worker in June and showed up at the Thonotosassa mansion to pick up orders.

Last week, investigators seized computers, records and about 500 packages of skin care products, a returned search warrant states.

Even the guard at the entrance to the exclusive Stonelake Ranch neighborhood seemed to know that a mail-order business was operating out of that two-story house on Stonelake Ranch Boulevard, according to an affidavit.

When the undercover deputy showed up in June and pointed to other undercover investigators, who also appeared to be postal workers, the unnamed guard told the deputy that she would definitely need help, considering the number of packages shipped from the house.

Sheriff's Office records indicate that a deputy responded to the house for a call about fraud on Jan. 20, but details on that case were not available, a Sheriff's Office records employee said, because the case is still open.

In March, a Department of Health investigator went to one of the websites the tipster named and placed an order for the Obagi Nu-Derm Blender — a nighttime cream that contains 4 percent of the skin bleaching agent hydroquinone, the affidavit states.

In the affidavit, a deputy wrote that "the website did not request nor require him to answer any questions, submit any medical history or make personal or telephone contact with the subject pharmacy, or submit a valid prescription."

A Florida Department of Health spokeswoman declined to comment, saying that state law prohibits the department from discussing complaints or investigations "until probable cause is found," she said.

The affidavit states that when the investigator received the 2-ounce bottle, which cost $75.40, he noticed the return address was to a P.O. box in Thonotosassa and the label referenced a different website:

The bottle said "RX ONLY," the court records state, and its label didn't include the vendor's name, doctor's name, patient's name or date dispensed.

Investigators made three additional orders from complete two for Obagi brand Nu-Derm Blender and one for a tretinoin cream, which is a vitamin-A derivative and requires a prescription.

A deputy used postal records to trace the shipping to the Stonelake Ranch Boulevard home, and undercover investigators went to the home in June, posing as postal workers. There, the deputy picked up several sacks filled with boxes containing skin care products, the affidavit said.

State records show that a person named Robin Milata owns a company called Complete Skin Care, and her address is listed as the same Stonelake Ranch Home that deputies searched Wednesday, according to Florida Division of Corporations records. She owns the home with her husband, Patrick Milata, according to property appraiser records.

The manager of Complete Skin Care is Robin Milata's sister, Kim George, state records show.

A woman who answered the company's toll-free phone number Friday said that neither Robin nor Kim were available, and she took a message. The call was not returned.

Later in the day, a woman who said she was Kim George answered the phone and after listening to a reporter's request, put the reporter on hold. After almost four minutes, the call dropped. A message was not returned.

Additional attempts to reach the Milatas and George were not successful.

Times news researcher John Martin and staff writer Alexandra Zayas contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

Probe of skin cream sales leads to Thonotosassa mansion 07/26/10 [Last modified: Monday, July 26, 2010 10:27pm]
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