Jasper doctor pleads guilty to illegally distributing painkillers

Nicole Smith
Posted 11/10/15

A Jasper physician pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to illegally distributing narcotic painkillers.

Dr. Muhammad Wasim Ali, 51, of Walker Rural Health Care/Jasper Neurological Care, was arrested on March 27 at his medical practice in Jasper …

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Jasper doctor pleads guilty to illegally distributing painkillers

Posted

A Jasper physician pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to illegally distributing narcotic painkillers.

Dr. Muhammad Wasim Ali, 51, of Walker Rural Health Care/Jasper Neurological Care, was arrested on March 27 at his medical practice in Jasper and indicted on 10 counts of unlawful distribution of controlled substances to three undercover agents.

Prior to the case against Ali going to trial Monday, he pleaded guilty to the charges against him.

The charges in Ali’s plea include dispensing 1,100 oxycodone pills to undercover officers between August and November 2014 “without conducting acceptable medical examinations or requesting and/or reviewing medical records,” a press release states. According to the plea agreement, Ali falsified examinations and diagnoses.

The plea agreement said additional charges against Ali will be dismissed, including 26 charges of “dispensing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose to patients” and two counts of “illegally possessing with intent to distribute controlled substances, mostly opioid painkillers.”

Ali will forfeit $2,450 to the government “as proceeds of that illegal activity,” and he will pay a fine of $85,000 — those terms in exchange for dropping the additional charges. The parties in the plea agreement suggest Ali should face 30 months in prison, but U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler will not make his decision on whether to send Ali to prison until his sentencing hearing. A date for the hearing has not been set.

“Proper use of prescribed opioids for pain management is an important part of the practice of medicine, but abuse of these drugs is deadly,” U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance said in a press release. “Alabama leads the nation in the number of per capita prescriptions for opioid painkillers, and prescription drug abusers often shift to heroin abuse. This tragic trend contributes to our epidemic overdose death rates.”

Two other Birmingham-area physicians have faced charges along with Ali. All were charged as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Operation Pilluted, a crackdown on pharmaceutical abuse and trafficking in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Birmingham physician Peter Alan Lodewick was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins to four years probation for illegally distributing controlled substances and forbade from seeking DEA reinstatement, and Hopkins also sentenced Dr. Ernest Albert Claybon, of Midfield, for “distributing methadone without a legitimate medical purpose.” He received four years probation, a fine of $20,000 and was forced to surrender his medical license and DEA registration.

The original criminal complaint against Ali, filed on March 26, concluded that Ali wrote 12,700 Schedule II narcotic prescriptions in 2014, an average of 52 prescriptions each day.