TORONTO: An Ontario woman who posed as a nurse and left people with lasting injuries by giving them cosmetic treatments she wasn’t qualified to perform will spend nearly two years behind bars.
Shiva Ashkani of Brampton, Ont., was sentenced after being found guilty of eight charges against former patients, including three counts of assault with a weapon, one count of aggravated assault and one count of fraud under $5,000.
Court heard that she claimed to be a registered nurse and a medical cosmetician with decades of experience in providing botox and collagen injections.
Three people she treated reported agonizing pain, fear of contracting blood-borne diseases, permanent scarring and significant financial losses as a result of Ashkani’s procedures.
Superior Court Justice Alfred O’Marra sentenced Ashkani, who has a history of mental illness, to two years less a day in jail plus three years of probation.
The jail time fell short of the 3.5 years requested by prosecutors but while O’Marra felt Ashkani’s offences merited the harsher sentence, he said her mental illness had to be factored into the equation.
“She knowingly injected substances and applied material to the faces of her victims that brought significant psychological and physical pain, as well as financial harm,” he wrote in his March 28 sentencing decision. “I take into account however … the need to ensure her access to treatment and continuing control and supervision.”
O’Marra said Ashkani’s fraudulent cosmetics treatments got underway in 2015, three years after she was accused of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in an attack on her husband that left him with a ruptured spleen.
Some time before February 2015, O’Marra said Ashkani posted an ad on classified site Kijiji touting her non-existent medical credentials.
The ad claimed Ashkani was a registered nurse with 13 years of experience working alongside surgeons. It also claimed she had spent 21 years working as a medical cosmetician with jobs in Beverly Hills, Calif., Vancouver and Toronto.
Court heard the owners of a Toronto tanning salon with plans to hire a registered nurse for beauty treatments brought Ashkani on board after coming across her ad in July 2015.
According to O’Marra’s decision, Ashkani performed botched botox and collagen filler treatments on two women connected with the tanning salon, including the site manager.
Court heard the manager fell ill after the injection, saw the skin around her eyes begin to blacken, and wound up with a scar in the middle of her forehead. O’Marra said the woman spent more than $4,000 to correct the damage and was threatened with physical violence after she lodged a complaint about Ashkani.
The other salon client reported a rash and discolouration around her eyes after a treatment with Ashkani..
O’Marra said the third victim was a woman who received treatment starting in February 2015 both at her own home and at a business Ashkani was running in Brampton. That client, the judge wrote, received both botox and filler injections as well as a chemical face peel after viewing falsified documents outlining Ashkani’s fraudulent credentials.
A victim impact statement offered a harrowing account of the chemical face peel procedure.
“I was in such excruciating pain with whatever substance she applied to my face that it was physically impossible to endure,” the statement read. “I began to experience serious side effects (swelling and open weeping sores) … I was placed on antibiotics for three months for the infection that developed under my skin.”
Despite spending more than $5,200 on followup care after Ashkani’s treatment, court heard the woman has permanent scarring to her face. O’Marra also noted the client had to miss work and sustained lasting emotional trauma.
O’Marra said all three victims had to undergo blood tests to ensure they had not contracted HIV or hepatitis as a result of their treatments, noting they were never told exactly what substance they were injected with. All paid between $500 and $800 for their treatments, court documents show.
The sentencing decision said Ashkani has been diagnosed with both bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, adding she also has a history of making “suicide gestures.”
After her conviction in December 2017, O’Marra said Ashkani was hospitalized for reasons related to her mental health. A psychiatrist assessed whether or not she was fit to proceed with the sentencing process and ultimately ruled she could.
Given her psychiatric history as well as the gravity of her offences, O’Marra’s decision emphasized the need for Ashkani to have a prolonged period of supervision both in and out of a correctional setting.
“In my view, the community would be better protected by having Ms. Ashkani under an extended period of supervision,” he wrote.