South Bay surgeon pleads guilty in deadly botched breast surgery case

Espinoza's mother was in the front row during the hearing holding a picture of her daughter

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A South Bay plastic surgeon who was charged with murder and several other counts after the death of a breast augmentation patient in 2018 took a plea deal Monday to lesser charges.

Dr. Carlos Chacon pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter and three count of aiding and abetting the practice of medicine without a license. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 20 to three years in prison, far less than the 15 years to life in prison he faced if convicted of the previous 2nd-degree murder charge.

Chacon was the surgeon who performed a breast augmentation surgery on Megan Espinoza in December 2018 at the Divino Surgery Center in Bonita. The mother of two went into cardiac arrest and died a month later.

Espinoza's mother was in the front row during the hearing holding a picture of her daughter.

A lawyer for Chacon released the below statement following the guilty plea:

"This case has been going on for over 6 years. Nothing can replace the life of Megan Espinoza. By entering into a plea, Dr. Chacon has accepted his role in the outcome. He wants Ms. Espinoza’s family to have closure as well as his own.

Last week, Espinoza's husband, Moises, told NBC 7 he was contacted by the deputy district attorney to inform him of the change of plea.

The family of a young mother who died after a botched breast augmentation surgery says the Bonita doctor responsible has agreed to a plea deal.

Testimony in Chacon’s preliminary hearing showed she was anesthetized by a nurse who was not licensed to do so. When Espinoza went into distress and suffered a heart attack, the medical professionals who were supposed to care for her waited three hours before calling 911. Testimony showed Chacon saw four other patients while Espinoza lay on the table, with the life draining out of her.

“It was unbelievable,” said Moises Espinoza, adding that Chacon valued profits over humanity.

As part of the plea deal explained to him, Moises Espinoza said Chacon will face a lifetime revocation of his medical license. 

“The fact that no one else is ever going to have to go through this, no other family is ever going to have to suffer this again, is a relief to me, and I think a win for Megan,” Moises Espinoza said.

Dr. Chacon refused to call 9-1-1 for more than 3 hours and he also forbade his employees from doing so, according to Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas.

Moises Espinoza and his brother-in-law, David Gorcey, called the plea deal bittersweet because it won’t bring his wife back. 

“There's no sentence that will change the reality for us, but what we’re taking some comfort in is the fact that this person won’t be able to do this to anyone again,” said Gorcey, Megan Espinoza’s big brother.

Gorcey said Megan Espinoza would be happy that the family fought to get some justice for her.

“She was just so loving and positive,” Gorcey said. “The world would be a better place if there were more Megans in it.”

Heather Lang Vass, the nurse who was also charged in connection with Espinoza's death, pleaded guilty in May to involuntary manslaughter.

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