Miami Police Capt. Javier Ortiz Cuts Ads for Anti-Aging Clinic With Chiropractor Tied to Political Scandal

BodyRx via YouTube

BodyRx, an anti-aging clinic that offers testosterone and other hormone treatments, fills an unassuming office on the ground floor of a Coral Gables apartment complex. The lobby is pristine, with gray floors, ornate shelving, and delicate upholstery that wouldn't seem out of place in a wedding planner's office. As patients wait to be seen, a TV on the wall plays one testimonial on repeat.

"Hi, I'm Javier Ortiz, and I'm the president of the Fraternal Order of Police," the 52-second ad begins. "Part of my job responsibilities are representing our police officers when it comes health and wellness... When you are in the law enforcement field, you need to be in the best shape of your life in order to not only protect the streets, but to protect yourself."

Of course, Ortiz leaves out the most important part of his bio: The Miami Police Department captain is the most controversial police leader in South Florida history thanks to years of outlandish statements, use-of-force accusations, lawsuits, perjury accusations, and even a restraining order that briefly left him on desk duty last year.

His latest move as a slimmed-down BodyRx spokesman is no less controversial. Anti-aging clinics such as this one have exploded in popularity around Florida in the past decade, but they occupy a legal gray area in the eyes of federal and state regulators. Some critics say police should stay far away from an industry repeatedly tied to selling banned steroids and human growth hormone to athletes.

"It bothers me that a law enforcement officer would be visibly there at the door welcoming people into an anti-aging clinic," says Don Hooton, president of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, the group he founded to battle youth steroid abuse after his 17-year-old son committed suicide while taking the drugs. "These are, at their core, the same drugs that are illegal when sold on the street. Police officers should be out there combatting them and encouraging kids and adults to stay away from these drugs."

BodyRx lists two licensed medical professionals on its website, and the clinic says it follows state and federal laws by prescribing hormones and testosterone only to patients with diagnosed medical conditions. But in a true Miami touch, one of the medical professionals listed on the firm's site, chiropractor Jose De Goti, was charged with a felony in 1998 and later sentenced to probation for his role in South Florida's most infamous vote-fraud scandal.

"I don’t think a cop should be taking illegal steroids," says Steven Sevilla, BodyRx's owner, who says De Goti's old charges are in the past and irrelevant to his current work. "I don’t need that. I have a wife, I have a daughter who don’t want to deal with a cop’s attitude or aggression."

But Sevilla adds he believes hormone therapy under a doctor's supervision can be helpful to police officers. "They also go through so much stress — they're out there alone, they have night shifts, their shifts are constantly changing — all this causes a lot of side effects," he says.

Ortiz says that he's not compensated for the ads and that he has referred cops to the clinic only for healthy-diet advice. "BodyRx offers advice under medical professionals to give our FOP members the opportunity to improve their health through fitness plans, proper eating habits, and close monitoring of their personal health," he says.

When New Times called to ask follow-up questions about the clinic, Sevilla made his position clear. "However hard you’re going after me," he said, "I’m going to go harder after you."

Ortiz is the de facto spokesman for the clinic — his ads appear on nearly every page of the company's website, and testimonials about his weight loss litter BodyRx's Facebook page. It's unclear whether his involvement violates any MPD policies; a spokesperson for the department didn't respond to messages from New Times for this story.

Ortiz is among the most powerful figures at MPD headquarters. The brash cop has been either vice president or president of the department's police union since the mid-'00s and has often made headlines and headaches for the force. He first hit the news in 2008 when he admitted to doctoring a mug shot of a black man killed by police that made the man look like a demon; Ortiz was criticized by a city commissioner but apparently faced no other discipline.

Since then, he has perfected the art of garnering national press by defending police in dubious shootings while personally dodging allegations of serious misbehavior. Ortiz called Tamir Rice, the unarmed 12-year-old boy killed by Cleveland police, a "thug"; said Oklahoma cops later charged with manslaughter were "justified" in fatally shooting a black man with his arms raised; and made a Facebook page backing Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

In 2011, Ortiz was among a group of cops that threw a man to the ground at Ultra Music Festival and tasered him. Ortiz, who was alleged to have written a false report, was later cleared by prosecutors but was banned from working Ultra after the festival had to pay the man $400,000.

In 2015, Ortiz took to social media to smear a woman who had posted a video of a Miami cop punching a handcuffed suspect. The next year, he went even further in attacking a woman who had filmed a viral video about a Miami-Dade cop she'd seen speeding on the highway; Ortiz posted at least seven times about her on Facebook and repeatedly published her cell number online. MPD's internal affairs unit later reprimanded him for breaking departmental policy. In May 2017, the woman obtained a restraining order against Ortiz after he allegedly followed her out of a hearing; MPD took away his gun and assigned him to desk duty but later cleared him of wrongdoing.

And then, last October, he was promoted to captain. He handed the reigns of the police union to an ally and remains number two in the organization.

Sometime last year, Ortiz also connected with BodyRx because he wanted to lose weight. The clinic advertises various weight-loss programs, including one using human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a controversial hormone banned from over-the-counter sales by the FDA. (Citing patient confidentiality laws, Sevilla declined to discuss Ortiz's specific treatment.)
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BodyRx via Facebook
Sevilla, who has never been charged with a crime in Miami or Broward, founded BodyRx in 2008 after training for much of his life to be a mixed martial arts fighter. The firm is part of a largely unregulated boom in anti-aging businesses around Florida.

In 2013, New Times reported on how one such clinic, Biogenesis, was illegally selling steroids to scores of Major League Baseball players including Alex Rodriguez. New Times also found that at least two active Miami cops had been Biogenesis customers. Soon afterward, Miami PD said it planned to begin testing its officers for steroids. The current police-union contract, which Ortiz helped negotiate, says MPD may conduct random urine tests for anabolic steroids "in accordance with industry standards." (Sources within MPD say the department apparently never instituted the tests, and testosterone therapy would be allowed with a prescription anyway.)

A follow-up New Times investigation found the state barely regulates the anti-aging industry, which is based on selling testosterone, human growth hormone (HGH), and peptides that stimulate HGH production. More than 500 such clinics operate statewide but aren't required to be licensed or to have a medical director listed. Felons can own clinics, and New Times found several who did.

Sevilla says his clinic follows the law when it comes to selling testosterone and HGH-stimulating peptides. There are two licensed medical professionals listed as "our specialists" on the firm's website: Dr. George Herrera, an OB/GYN who turned to anti-aging medicine; and De Goti, a chiropractor who played a starring role in an infamous Miami scandal. (Sevilla says De Goti is not an employee but rather an independent contractor who uses space at BodyRx for his own chiropractic business.)

In 1998, De Goti's brother Jorge was chief of staff for Miami Commissioner Humberto Hernandez when Jorge got caught working with the commissioner to falsely register voters; the case landed Hernandez in jail and led a judge to invalidate then-Mayor Xavier Suarez's election. Jose De Goti was charged with one felony and two misdemeanors for helping to cover up evidence of the fraud; he pleaded guilty to those counts, as well as several unrelated insurance-fraud charges, but avoided a felony record by serving two years of probation. State records show his medical license was also put on probation, but he's had no complaints since then. Jorge De Goti ended up serving nine months in jail.

Sevilla says he considers Ortiz a friend and doesn't pay attention to his various political squabbles. Ortiz hasn't said what treatment he received at the clinic, but the company does link Ortiz's minute-long ad on its web pages advertising "testosterone-replacement therapy" and "sermorelin therapy." Sermorelin is a popular peptide analog of HGH, which encourages the body's hypothalamus and pituitary glands to release growth hormone.

Though there's no evidence that Ortiz is taking those controversial drugs, some anti-steroid activists are upset that his face is appearing on web pages promoting them. The use of testosterone and HGH and its derivatives is controversial within law enforcement circles. Some outside analysts estimate thousands or tens of thousands of officers nationwide might be using some form of steroids to gain muscle mass. Other medical experts are concerned the drugs may lead to erratic or violent behavior.

When New Times visited the clinic's Coral Gables office this week, two police cruisers sat parked on the street outside (one MPD, the other Coral Gables PD). Sevilla said he could not speak about any patients due to federal privacy laws.

But Sevilla — a 30-something with thick biceps, a short-cropped salt-and-pepper beard, and tribal tattoos snaking down his left arm — stressed that any drugs his chain prescribes are administered legally.

"I tell people: 'My job is not to make you bigger,'" he said from a backroom at his Gables office while his wife and business partner Regina sat nearby. "We are a medical facility. I have people who come to me asking to get huge, and I turn them away. What we focus on here is a 'lifestyle change.' It's preventative medicine. This is changing lives."

He says his customers typically pay hundreds of dollars per visit for hormone therapy. Under federal law, it's illegal to sell steroids for the purpose of bodybuilding, and HGH can be prescribed by doctors only for a tiny number of conditions, such as growth deficiencies in children.

But peptides, which can cause the body to produce its own growth hormone, are a gray area in federal law. In an in-depth story last month, the New York Times pushed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clarify its stance on peptides, but the agency declined, instead only noting it has repeatedly prosecuted non-doctors who have sold the substances to athletes.

BodyRx, like most anti-aging clinics, says its doctors prescribe HGH-inducing peptides and testosterone only to men with actual low-hormone conditions. But critics say many clinics sell testosterone to virtually anyone; indeed, sales of the drug have skyrocketed over the past decade into a multibillion-dollar industry. An FDA study in 2014 showed that more than half of all men taking the drug had never been diagnosed with any medical conditions; in 2015, the FDA required testosterone drugs to add labels warning they could contribute to cardiovascular disease.

"One might make an argument whether these clinics are dealing with real medical problems," says Hooton, the activist. "They often just have a questionnaire that you fill out to get the drugs. Not always, but in many cases, there's no real effort made to treat anything medically — this is just another front for the sale of testosterone."

Florida doesn't license anti-aging clinics, but massage parlors are required to have a state license. Records show BodyRx had a massage license but let it expire last August. Sevilla says he stopped offering massages because they weren't profitable, though the company was still advertising massages on its Facebook page as recently as January.

Sevilla says he's heard claims that some anti-aging clinics sell steroids or other hormones to anyone regardless of their medical needs, but he says BodyRx doesn't do so.

"My job is telling people why you shouldn't go get drugs on the street," Sevilla says. "Wouldn’t that be an amazing thing to let people know that this is what you need to be doing, not the street? That you shouldn’t be medicating yourself? I think this is a great thing."

Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify Jose De Goti's relationship with BodyRx.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink
Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.