A San Jose man who owned a chain of laser treatment centers for toenail fungus turned out to be footloose about actually being a doctor and was convicted Friday of 19 felony counts of practicing medicine without a license.
Cary Silberman, 53, ran spas in San Jose, San Francisco, San Ramon, Beverly Hills and Manhattan called Shiny Toes, an operation that was tarnished last year when Silberman was arrested after an investigation by the Medical Board of California.
Lisa Schon, Santa Clara County prosecutor, said he was fraudulently presenting himself as a licensed doctor, diagnosing patients with toenail fungus and treating the condition with lasers.
She said any one of those could be considered practicing without a license, and initially the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office was pursuing two felony charges and one misdemeanor related to child endangerment.
However, since charges were filed last July, "research of his business records revealed more potential victims who were interviewed," Schon said.
She added that there are, no doubt, many more victims, but she went for 20 charges because "you got to stop at some point."
One of the victims was out of the country, and Silberman was convicted on the remaining 19 counts. He was acquitted on the misdemeanor child endangerment charge, which stemmed from using laser therapy on a 4-year-old.
"He had the laser set too high and the child screamed 'It burns! It burns!'
Silberman faces up to 15 years in prison at his sentencing next month.
When Silberman came under scrutiny by the medical board, it sent an undercover investigator to Shiny Toes to pose as a patient. The investigator gathered evidence that Silberman was indeed diagnosing patients with toenail fungus then using laser treatment, which can only be performed by a licensed doctor in California.
Schon said that Shiny Toes employed unlicensed laser operators who had only taken a single one-day course on using the machine.
"That was the extent of their training," she said.
She called laser toenail fungus treatment an unproven procedure and said Silberman was more of a scammer than someone putting the public at risk.
"The most offensive part is that he was holding himself out as a doctor, with no training, and prescribing treatment with no idea whether it works at all," she said.
Silberman's attorney could not be reached for comment on Friday, but Schon said his demeanor hasn't changed since his arrest, when the bogus doctor said the case was sparked by a jealous competing podiatrist.
"No, he did not ever acknowledge that he did anything at all wrong," she said.
Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.