LJ laser eye surgeon sentenced


A La Jolla laser eye surgeon who assaulted his then-girlfriend and tried to pass a false prescription as genuine was sentenced today to probation and ordered to enroll in a yearlong domestic violence program.

Manoj Motwani, 40, pleaded guilty last month to misdemeanor charges of battery on a significant other and having a prescription illegally written for him under another name. In an unrelated case, Motwani pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor DUI charge.

As part of his plea agreement, Motwani was placed on three years probation and ordered to make restitution to Antonia Quast in an amount to be determined. Judge Kathleen Lewis also ordered Motwani to pay $8,000 to a domestic violence shelter or other nonprofit organization.

Motwani, who founded the Alpha Laser Center in 1999, must also abstain from alcohol during his probationary period, said Deputy District Attorney Lucy Weismantel.

The defendant became embroiled in a dispute with 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 a concussion, bruises, a bloody nose and a torn-off fingernail, authorities said. “The physical repercussions have been great,’’ Quast told the judge. “The aftermath has set me back professionally.’’

Weismantel said Quast, who worked for Motwani, is seeking $38,000 in restitution, citing medical bills and costs to relocate out of the area. “It was a very emotional experience for her, as well as her daughter,’’ the prosecutor said outside court.

After the sentencing, Motwani said Quast assaulted him initially because she was upset because he had been talking to another woman. “I feel very badly that she was injured in all this,’’ he said outside court.

Motwani’s attorney, Kerry Steigerwalt, said serious discrepancies in the version of events led to a resolution in the case.

The laser surgeon said his medical license is unaffected by the criminal case, adding the community had been supportive throughout the entire ordeal.

During the investigation, Quast showed CHP officers a bottle of the anti-depressant Lexapro that had another person’s name on it, Weismantel said. The woman told authorities that Motwani used an alias when he wrote a prescription to himself, the prosecutor 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.