RENTON, Wash. — The owner of a laser eye surgery center and former husband of Olympic gymnast and Oklahoma native Shannon Miller is under investigation after abruptly closing his suburban business and leaving for parts unknown, regulators say.
Dr. Christopher B. Phillips, 35, owner of Lomas Eye Care Center in Renton, canceled appointments without notifying patients, did not forward medical information to other providers, told staffers they were no longer needed and closed the clinic Feb. 29, state health officials and ex-employees say.
Founded by Dr. Richard W. Lomas, the center was one of the few in the metropolitan area that offered laser eye surgery in addition to conventional care ranging from basic eye examinations to treatment for cataracts. Lomas sold the business to Phillips some years ago.
Alexandra Gelt and Bryan Heitmeyer, optometrists who worked for Phillips and started Clearvue Vision Center on March 19, said they had no idea where he went.
"We'd developed very close ties with the patients we'd been serving for all those years," said Gelt, a 10-year veteran of the Lomas clinic. "The main goal right now is continuing to care for them."
Phillips was facing misdemeanor charges unrelated to the clinic, but his practice was not under investigation before he disappeared, Health Department spokesman Donn Moyer told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
"As a result of the current situation, we have gotten some complaints" that resulted in the state probe, Moyer said without elaborating.
In a case stemming from a party at his $800,000 home, Phillips is scheduled to appear in Municipal Court later this month on charges of making false statements to law enforcement officers and disturbing the peace.
According to police reports, officers statements, officers investigating a noise complaint found several intoxicated teenagers drinking at his home at 3 a.m. Dec. 10. The party goers, 15 or 16 years old, said they didn't know whose house they were in.
Phillips, found sleeping in an upstairs bedroom, said he had been up for two straight days and was tired, adding that he didn't know any of the teens or why they were drinking at his house.
When told that providing alcohol to minors is illegal, "Phillips became extremely agitated with me, telling me that he was a lawyer and that I had no right to accuse him of a crime," an officer wrote. "Phillips was irate and yelled at me to get out of his house."
Phillips and Miller, who won seven gymnastics medals during the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games, were married in a lavish ceremony in Oklahoma City in June 1999. Miller filed for divorce in May 2004 in Massachusetts, where they were living at the time, but the divorce did not became official for more than two years. The couple had no children.
At the time of the divorce, Phillips was working at a hospital in Boston and attending law school at Suffolk University.
Miller later called the marriage "a painful experience."