Sam Jahani, M.D., started Urgent Care clinics in 2005, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office. Jahani, 49, worked mostly in Montrose while his employee, Eric Peper, M.D., 53, worked in the Delta and Grand Junction offices.
Jahani was arrested in Cleveland, Tex., where he now lives, without incident, and had his first court appearance in Beaumont, Tex., on Tuesday, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorneys Office. Peper, who lives in Summerland Key, Fla., was arrested without incident at his home Wednesday morning, and will have a bond hearing at the end of the week.
After both men go to court in their home districts, they will be ordered to appear in U.S. District Court in Colorado.
According to the indictment for the two men, which was unsealed after Jahani’s arrest, between Jan. 1, 2006 and April 30, 2010, Jahani and Peper defrauded Medicaid and Medicare and commercial health plans “by means of material false and fraudulent pretenses.…”
Both doctors prescribed controlled substances indiscriminately without regard to patients’ welfare, according to the press release:
“As part of the scheme, Jahani and Peper prescribed controlled substances in quantities and dosages that would cause patients to abuse, misuse and become addicted….”
The U.S. Attorney’s office also said the pair also prescribed controlled drugs to patients they knew were addicts, misusing the drugs or “doctor shopping.”
Furthermore, they “prescribed controlled substances knowing that their prescribing endangered their patients’ lives, and if taken as directed, their prescriptions would be expected to result in accidental fatal overdoses.”
Four deaths have been attributed to overdoses from drugs prescribed by the two men, the press release states, but it gives no further details.
Jahani faces 20 counts of illegally dispensing a controlled substance, three counts of healthcare fraud resulting in death, two counts of healthcare fraud, one count of money laundering conspiracy, 10 counts of money laundering, three counts of dispensing a controlled substance resulting in death, and one count of illegally dispensing a controlled substance.
Peper’s pending charges include five counts of healthcare fraud, one count of money laundering conspiracy, three counts of money laundering, two counts of dispensing a controlled substance resulting in death, and 24 counts of illegally dispensing a controlled substance.
Among the drugs that Jahani and Peper prescribed were Schedule II pain killers, including oxycodone (such as Percocet and OxyContin), morphine, methadone and fentanyl; Schedule III pain killers, (such as Vicodin); and Schedule IV anti-anxiety medications, such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Ambien and Klonopin.
The men also allegedly falsified medical records and engaged in “upcoding,” to get more money from health care benefit programs, according to the U.S. Attorney.
“Jahani billed patients and caused patients to be billed for services not rendered, including services claimed to have been provided after the patient’s death,” the press release states.
Both men could face life in prison if convicted of the charges related to the overdose deaths, up to 20 years for several of the charges, and millions of dollars in fines.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer. The case was investigated by the DEA, Health and Human Services Offices of the Inspector General, Western Colorado Drug Task Force, Grand Junction Police Department, the Colorado Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation unit.
All three of Jahani’s Urgent Care offices were raided on Oct. 13, 2009 by federal agents, and Jahani’s lawyer at the time, Gabriel Imperato, said he hoped “at the end of the day it would be clear Dr. Jahani acted in a compliant fashion in his medical practice.”
Before opening his clinics in Colorado, Jahani reached a civil settlement in an alleged Medicare fraud case in Texas while he was medical director of Integrated Health Services, a Dallas Hospital. He is also facing a pending case by a former employee, Tonya Creel, who claims that she was fired for being a whistleblower about fraudulent Medicare reports by Jahani.