Owner speaks out on MD Cosmetics closure

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) An update on a Channel 3 News investigation into a medical spa that closed suddenly. Customers say they're out thousands of dollars. Now, the spa's owner is telling us what happened.

"You know, Tyler, I didn't know I was going to close until the Friday before you guys came to my house. We literally ran out of money that day," said Erin Jewell, the owner of the MD Cosmetics Medical Spa.

Jewell admits there were financial problems but she says the real trouble came when she and her top employee, Dr. Colleen Parker, got into a dispute over hiring extra help. Parker didn't like the idea and later resigned.

"I was left with no practitioner for seven weeks," Jewell said.

Jewell says Parker brought in 65 percent of the business's revenue. Her devastating departure meant tens of thousands of dollars in lost sales.

Reporter Tyler Dumont: Without Parker, there's no Botox. Without Botox, there's no business?
Erin Jewell: Because of the amount of income she brought in, absolutely.

"She was bouncing a couple of paychecks and it was explained that it was a problem with the bank," Parker told WCAX News last week.

Parker said she resigned due to Jewell's money mismanagement amid a lavish lifestyle.

Tyler Dumont: Employees have raised concerns about these missed paychecks. And yet, here you were taking vacations and having a brand new car. How do you explain that?
Erin Jewell: You know, I took a paycheck just like everybody else and that's all I'm going to comment on that because that's really none of anybody's business.
Tyler Dumont: But you have employees not getting paid...
Erin Jewell: The employees were paid.
Tyler Dumont: You just told me you missed paychecks, right?
Erin Jewell: No. The paychecks may have bounced but they were still paid.

After Parker departed, Jewell says customers did, too, when emails were sent to Parker's past MD Cosmetics patients.

Tyler Dumont: It sounds like you're accusing Dr. Parker of stealing your patients.
Erin Jewell: I'm not going to say those words, I'm not going to come out and say those words. But I will say somebody stole intellectual property and I don't know who it is. But it was used by her office.

While she wouldn't tell us how much in total, Jewell admits many of her customers are out money in prepaid services.

Tyler Dumont: When do you think you'll have an answer for people who are still owed? Sometimes, you know, for some people, it's thousands of dollars.
Erin Jewell: Soon. I don't know what soon means, but I'm hoping soon... I'm broke, too. Everything that I've worked for is gone.

There is hope for customers who prepaid for laser hair removal services. Lumina, a South Burlington med spa, has announced they will honor MD Cosmetics credits up to four treatments.

Meanwhile, 59 written consumer complaints have been filed with the AG's office since the spa shut down.