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Mother of sons behind 1-800-GET-THIN gets probation in currency case

Mother of sons behind 1-800-GET-THIN gets probation in currency case
Cindy Omidi, outside federal court last year with a former attorney for 1-800-GET-THIN, was sentenced to probation Monday for violating laws designed to prevent money laundering. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

The mother of two brothers behind the 1-800-GET-THIN ad campaign for weight-loss surgery was given probation Monday for violating federal laws designed to prevent money laundering.

U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson sentenced Cindy Omidi to three years of probation and fined her $75,000, rejecting prosecutors' requests that she spend more than three years in prison.

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Omidi, 66, was convicted of a crime called "structuring," which involved purchasing dozens of postal money orders in an amount just below the $3,000 threshold that would have required postal officials to keep reports about them.

Wilson said he was influenced by Omidi's otherwise clean criminal record, her age and what he said is the unlikely chance she would re-offend. He also noted that there was no evidence the money used to buy the money orders was the product of a crime.

After the hearing at the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, Omidi smiled as she talked to her attorneys and family members.

"Thank you judge for his decision," she said. "But basically I didn't do anything wrong."

Still pending is a federal investigation of the 1-800-GET-THIN business, operated by sons Michael and Julian Omidi.

A prosecutor told Wilson on Monday that the investigation is focusing on the alleged defrauding of insurance companies. No charges have been filed.

In 2014, federal agents seized $109 million in cash and securities as part of the investigation. Attorneys for Cindy Omidi and her sons have tried unsuccessfully to get the money returned.

Five patients died following surgeries at clinics affiliated with the ad campaign, according to lawsuits, autopsy reports and other public records. No criminal charges were filed regarding the deaths.

Twitter: @spfeifer22

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