Original article no longer available
Jam 30, 2009
The founder of a University City laser eye-surgery clinic pleaded guilty Thursday to misdemeanor charges stemming from an assault on his then-girlfriend and having a prescription illegally written for him under another name.
Manoj Motwani, 40, faces a maximum of two years in jail, but agreed, as part of his probation, to complete a 52-week domestic violence program, enroll in a drug diversion program, make restitution to the victim and pay $8,000 to a shelter for battered women. Formal sentencing is set for Feb. 24 before Judge Kathleen Lewis.
Motwani, who founded the Alpha Laser Center in 1999, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery on a significant other and attempting to pass a false prescription as genuine.
In an unrelated case, Motwani pleaded guilty earlier this week to a misdemeanor DUI charge.
Motwani became embroiled in a dispute with his girlfriend, Antonia Quast, while driving northbound on Interstate 5 through Bay Park in the early morning hours of Oct. 28, 2007.
When the altercation became physical, the defendant stopped his vehicle on the side of the road, and the fight continued until a passerby intervened, according to the California Highway Patrol. Motwani fled and Quest was left with bruises, a bloody nose and a torn-off fingernail, authorities said.
During the investigation, Quast showed CHP officers a bottle of the anti-depressant Lexapro that had another person’s name on it, according to Deputy District Attorney Lucy Weismantel. The woman told authorities that Motwani used an alias when he wrote a prescription to himself, the prosecutor said.
Motwani’s previous attorney, James Dicks, said Quast assaulted Motwani and earlier that evening had attacked a woman. A counselor had suggested low doses of Lexapro for the defendant, Dicks said.
An associate, Dr. James Rice, admitted last September that he forged a prescription for Motwani. If Rice successfully completes two years in a drug diversion program, prosecutors will dismiss the charge against him.