By 2010, the 1-800-GET-THIN campaign was in full swing. Ads featuring the catchy slogan "Let your new life begin, call 1-800-GET-THIN" became a fixture of Southern California advertising. Callers were referred to clinics including ones at 9001 Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills and at 7320 Woodlake Ave. in West Hills, according to a wrongful termination lawsuit that two former workers filed against the Omidis.
"You'd have people spilling out onto the street on Wilshire, waiting to be seen," Dr. Scott Bickman, an anesthesiologist, said of the Beverly Hills clinic. He said he worked on hundreds of Lap-Band surgeries for the Omidis.
Julian Omidi supervised employees who answered calls to 1-800-GET-THIN, while Michael Omidi oversaw medical decisions, including hiring and the purchase of medical supplies, former employees said in lawsuits and interviews.
Because the company is privately held, its finances are confidential. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Michael Omidi owns a 2004 Lamborghini Murcielago. Records also show that Top Surgeons, a company affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN, owns a 2006 Ferrari F430 Spider.
Public records do not tie the brothers to any real estate holdings.
Their mother, Cindy Omidi, now lists an $8.5-million estate in the Hollywood Hills as an address, according to public records. The 14,000-square-foot mansion on Sierra Alta Way was previously occupied by Rockstar Energy Drink founder Russell Weiner and Interscope Records co-founder Ted Field, property and campaign records show.
When she made a recent contribution to President Obama's reelection campaign, Cindy Omidi listed the Hollywood Hills estate as her home address. Public records show the home was purchased in 2010 by a limited-liability corporation called FJKJ.
Shamaan, who performed Lap-Band surgeries at the clinics, testified that Michael Omidi put making money ahead of patient care.
"His god is money," Shamaan said in the deposition for a wrongful-death lawsuit involving one of the patient deaths. "If the patient brings in money, he will give him service. His prerogative is not patient care, not patient safety, just 'Can he pay?'"
That's not the way the Omidis are portrayed on a number of websites in their names that have popped up on the Internet.
The sites, MichaelOmidi.net, MichaelOmidi.org, JulianOmidi.net and JulianOmidi.org, document philanthropic efforts by the brothers. One of the sites has a photograph of Michael Omidi posing with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks).
Sherman spokesman Ben Fishel said that his boss has taken thousands of photographs at public events with people he does not know, and that he does not know Michael Omidi.
Naim, the surgeon, said he stopped working for the Omidis because of his concerns that they were putting patients at risk by cutting costs. He said the surgery centers were understaffed and some employees were not properly trained.
Still, he said he holds no grudges.
"I could even have a drink with Julian. We have no problems personally," Naim said. "But if you say, 'Can I do surgery for him?' I'd say, 'No. Are you crazy?'"