Cosmetic Surgeon Famous For Hairpieces Resurfaces In Florida After Wife Murdered And Poisoned | Official website of Oxygen (2023)

For her 39th birthday, TerriLaMarti received a "dream gift" from her husband Ned: a gift certificate for liposuction.

During an initial consultation with plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Pignataro in his office in West Seneca, New York, she told LaMartis that she felt completely "at ease" and "at ease" with the charismatic doctor.

"I had absolutely no concerns for Dr. Pignataro. He completely calmed me down," LaMartitold said.license to kill", ventilationSaturdaysNo6/5cOneoxygen.

In June 1997, Ned took her to her liposuction appointment at 8:30 am and what followed was the most excruciating pain LaMartih had ever experienced in her life.

After swallowing a handful of pills, LaMarti was taken to the "surgery room," a basement located two flights of stairs down, far from the sterile operating rooms she expected.

"They threw me in this chair. I tried to tell them that something is wrong here, I don't want to do that. I had no control over anything," he told the producers.

The last thing LaMartire remembered was an audible groan, and when he awoke hours later, at 5:00 p.m. m., she was fully clothed in the waiting room. Ned picked her up and when she got home she had so much blood running down her legs that her daughter had to wipe it off.

When LaMartis examined her abdomen, he saw between 18 and 22 staples in her abdomen, but the surgical incisions had not closed.

"There were cuts, like the edges weren't together, like you could stick a man's finger in those holes," he recalled.

Concerned, LaMart called Dr. Pignataro, who claimed that the blood was actually a lot of surgical fluid and that they had nothing to worry about. He told LaMartito that he would contact them the next morning.

However, after a night's sleep, she felt even more pain and they rushed to the hospital emergency room. Doctors discovered that her intestines had been injured during the procedure and LaMarti was dealing with a brutal infection. Dr. Pignataro's sutures cut off all blood supply to her abdomen, causing her to rot.

LaMarti was left with a four-and-a-half-inch-deep hole, and spent the next few days recovering in the hospital with medication and IVs.

Cosmetic Surgeon Famous For Hairpieces Resurfaces In Florida After Wife Murdered And Poisoned | Official website of Oxygen (1)

Terri LaMarti and family.

While she was still in the hospital, she was woken up around 2:30 am. Her visitor was none other than Dr.

A formal examination of Dr. Pignataro, however, did not begin until August 1997, when first responders were called to his office to attend to a patient in distress. The victim was Sarah Smith, 26, a mother of two, who was undergoing breast augmentation surgery when her heart and her breathing stopped.

When the paramedics arrived, Dr. Pignataro managed to create an airway for Smith with a hanger. Although paramedics were able to revive Smith with CPR, he slipped into a coma upon arrival at the emergency room and later died.

Stunned by the scene, firefighters reported Dr. Pignataro local police practice who accompanied the surgeon for the procedure. He claimed that Smith stopped breathing through her umbilical cord during her routine breast augmentation, so he performed CPR and gave her an injection of lidocaine.

When that failed to revive her, he said he had his team call 911. Dr. Pignataro ended the interview, telling investigators he needed to see a patient.

The next day, LaMarti, still recovering at home, received a call from Dr. Paul Dippert, who treated her at the hospital.

"He said, 'Do you know what a lucky woman you are? ... That son of a bitch just killed a 26-year-old mother of two,'" LaMartito told "License to Kill."

The West Seneca Police Department opened an investigation into Smith's death, and when the autopsy report came in, it was found that Smith had died of asphyxiation due to inadequate ventilation during the anesthesia procedure.

"For the laymen, the oxygen levels were so low that their hearts basically stopped," Erie County District Attorney John Flynntold said.

A toxicology report also found that Dr. Pignataro had mixed sodium pentothal and Versed, two drugs that relax the body during surgery. The dose Smith received was so high that she could no longer breathe on her own.

At that time, the New York State Department of Health suspended Dr. Pignataro's medical license and the Erie County District Attorney's Office took over the investigation.

When they questioned the office staff, they learned that during Smith's surgery, Debbie Pignataro, Dr. Pignataro, who worked as an office assistant, was a licensed nurse with only six months of experience in a non-surgical setting and a 17 year old high school intern.

The nurse and the teen said Smith woke up halfway through the procedure and said "ouch" and was given more medication to render her unconscious. At that point, Debbie noticed that her oxygen levels were dropping, but instead of stopping immediately, Dr. Pignataro proceeded with the operation.

After noticing that Smith's lips "turned blue", Debbie stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest.

As investigators delved into the surgeon's background, they discovered that he was the son of respected Buffalo physician Ralph Pignataro.

An otolaryngologist by training, he then moved to West Seneca and established his plastic surgery practice, where he became a minor celebrity offering bargain prices on tummy tucks, breast augmentation, and rhinoplasty. Dr. Pignataro, clad in a red Lamborghini, bragged about his unique patents, including wigs with implanted skulls.

However, investigators have heard from various witnesses that Dr. Pignataro was just flash and no substance.

"Everyone who spoke in this investigation and who was with him in the residency program said it was a disaster... The more we told Dr. Looking at Pignataro, the worse we felt," Flynnt told the producers.

Hoping to alert others to the practice, LaMarti went public with her story, and several women have come forward with their own stories of their experiences with Dr. Pignataro. Including Smith, LaMartile reaped the benefits of 13 other women who had allegations against her.

Authorities obtained a search warrant for his office and, once inside, took several photographs of the basement, which they claimed was not properly configured for operations and equipped with the proper equipment.

The Erie County District Attorney's Office took the case to a grand jury, and in January 1998, Dr. Pignataro was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter, manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and forgery. of business records, retired district attorney Chris Belling told License to Kill.

In August of that year, he accepted a plea deal and was sentenced to six months in prison with five years' probation on the manslaughter charge.The New York Times diesreported in 1998.

As part of the plea agreement, Dr. Pignataro could no longer practice medicine.

Several victims and people involved in the case were disappointed with the verdict, and Dr. Pignataro was released from prison in December 1998.

"It is an injustice. She killed someone,” according to the producers of LaMartitold.

Four months after his release, his wife Debbie complained of tingling and numbness in her arms and legs and difficulty walking. However, no one could identify the cause of her symptoms, and that summer she was on the verge of paralysis and was hospitalized.

They did a toxicology screen on Debbie and she tested positive for high levels of arsenic. A criminal investigation was launched into her poisoning, and when they were given a sample of her hair, it was discovered that the arsenic exposure began around May 1999.

"During that time, Debbie Pignataro remembered that Anthony Pignataro was making soup and Debbie became ill shortly after. We now suspect that there may have been arsenin in that soup," Flynn said.

Debbie gave the authorities permission to search her home and they found the Terro ant killer, which contained arsenic. They also found evidence that Dr. Pignataro purchased with a credit card at a store that sold Terro.

Investigators conducted numerous interviews with Dr. Pignataro, and when asked if he tried to kill his wife, according to Flynn, he replied, "Well, I can see how someone would think that.

After Debbie was released from the hospital, he was wheelchair bound and required physical therapy five days a week, but there was still not enough evidence to arrest him.

However, a whistleblower from the prison soon came to the authorities with damning evidence.

Dr. Pignataro reportedly revealed in prison that he had a girlfriend and life insurance for his wife. If she picked it up, she said she could start over with the other woman, the informant alleged.

The informant also said that Dr. Pignataro asked him if he knew how to poison someone and phone records confirmed that after Dr. Pignataro kept in touch.

Dr. Pignataro was then arrested on charges of first-degree attempted murder and assault, Flynn told producers.

Cosmetic Surgeon Famous For Hairpieces Resurfaces In Florida After Wife Murdered And Poisoned | Official website of Oxygen (2)

Anthony Pignataro, center, is escorted by the Erie County Deputy Sheriff after appearing in state Superior Court, where he was charged with attempted murder, assault and possession of a controlled substance, in Buffalo, New York, on Tuesday. March 9. Photo: AP

In late 2000, he pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of attempted assault and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Debbie divorced him and a protective order was issued prohibiting her from seeing his two children.

In December 2013, Dr. Pignataro was released and headed to Palm Beach, Florida. Three years later, she legally changed her name to Anthony Haute and, in 2019, she began promoting herself on an elderly caregiver's website.

"Since Dr. Pignataro is somewhere in the world with no one watching him, I guarantee he'll hurt someone else."

Flynn has since informed the West Palm Beach Police Department about Dr. Pignataro, calling him "one of the most dangerous people" he has met in his career.

Despite your past, there is nothing illegal about helping elderly patients unless you are performing the duties of a licensed physician.

Debbie will never fully recover from the poisoning and has reduced feeling and mobility in her extremities.

To learn more about the life and crimes of Dr. For more about Anthony Pignataro, see License to KillOxygen. with.

Crime News is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information on Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. enroll inoxygen insiderfor the best true crime content.


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