An Atlanta woman accused of injecting silicone into transgendered women to create curves on the cheap has been arrested on charges of practicing medicine without a license, authorities said. Verna Barnett, 45, known only by her first name to her customers, performed the injections at her home in suburban Norcross, authorities said. In the basement, authorities found an exam room with a paper-covered folding massage table. She had lidocaine, bandages, syringes, and three large containers filled with silicone, Gwinnett district attorney Danny Porter said.
Investigators said Barnett would take $1,200 in cash for breast augmentation or $500 for hip augmentation. Customers were instructed to wear a special bra after a procedure so the silicone would harden into the shape of breasts. There is no way to know how many transgendered women may have secretly sought out Barnett's services, but Porter described her as "the preferred service provider in the Southeast." Porter said Barnett is married with two children and has no criminal history. A message left Wednesday at her home was not immediately returned, and it was not clear whether she had hired a lawyer.
Porter said Andre Jeter, 23, was one of those who paid for the injections in Barnett's basement. Jeter died in December when she allegedly found an even cheaper deal on lower-grade injections, thought to be cut with baby oil, at a so-called pumping party in rural Albany, Ga., 150 miles south of Atlanta. Barnett is not charged with Jeter's death, although four of her alleged clients are. One suspect, Stephen Thomas, 31, told authorities he and the three other men learned to give the injections by getting them from Barnett, Porter said. Shortly after the group was charged with Jeter's death, two defendants told the Associated Press about getting their work from a woman named Verna. Similar statements to Dougherty County district attorney Ken Hodges led to Barnett's arrest.
Jazz Edwards said she spent about $3,300 getting face, bust, and lower-body injections from a woman named Verna beginning in 2000. She described the room where she had the injections, which authorities say matches what they found in Barnett's basement. While searching Barnett's home, authorities also found 20 to 30 bags of bandages and syringes. Based on the trash found at the home, Barnett may have recently pocketed $10,000 for the injections, Porter said. "I've been doing this for 24 years, and you come to a point where you think you've seen everything," Porter said. "Yesterday I realized I hadn't seen everything."