Doctor Indicted on Federal Drug Trafficking Charges for Writing Oxycontin Prescriptions for Cash
APR 30 - -- (LOS ANGELES) – A physician who operated a clinic in San Fernando has been indicted on federal narcotics charges for allegedly writing prescriptions for the powerful and addictive painkiller oxycodone for people he did not examine and who simply paid him as much as $300 for a prescription. Masoud Bamdad, 54, of Granada Hills, was named in a 23-count indictment returned late yesterday afternoon by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles. Bamdad has been in custody since his arrest on April 17, 2008, by special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
A criminal complaint filed at that time alleged that Bamdad accepted cash payments for writing “huge numbers of prescriptions” for narcotics sold under brand names such as Oxycontin, Vicodin and Xanax. In at least one case, Bamdad allegedly wrote prescriptions for people who had not come to his office. The indictment includes 17 counts of prescribing oxycodone (the generic name of the Schedule II narcotic marketed under the brand name Oxycontin) without a medical purpose. The indictment also contains five counts of prescribing oxycodone without a medical purpose to persons under 21. The twenty-third count of the indictment is criminal forfeiture, which seeks the forfeiture of property and funds obtained through illegal activity. “More than 48 million Americans have abused prescription drugs, and prescription drugs are the second most commonly used illegal drug by teens to get high,” said Timothy J. Landrum, DEA Special Agent in Charge. “Many are obtaining these dangerous controlled substances from doctors like Dr. Bamdad. It is unfortunate that someone would abuse their position of trust to prey on those who are vulnerable to the abuse of these drugs.”
According to court documents, as part of the investigation DEA agents conducted undercover operations in which they posed as people seeking drugs. Bamdad allegedly wrote prescriptions after brief visits, calling one undercover agent a drug addict and receiving cash payments that he simply put into his pocket. During the undercover meetings, Bamdad either did not examine or made only cursory examinations of the undercover agents, nor did he take thorough medical histories from them. Bamdad prescribed narcotic pain medications despite the undercover agents' statements that they were not experiencing significant pain, that they were taking them for enjoyment, or that they were seeking narcotic prescription medications on behalf of others. During one meeting, Bamdad and an undercover agent discussed the street price of Oxycontin.
According to the complaint, during the course of the investigation agents learned that large numbers of individuals were being recruited from San Diego-area homeless shelters to pose as “patients” at Bamdad’s office for the purpose of obtaining prescriptions. In exchange, the homeless individuals would receive $100 and a free lunch. The pills obtained with the prescriptions were later sold on the street. Bamdad was arrested several days after the DEA learned from a Los Angeles Police detective that a 23-year old man died of an apparent overdose of narcotics that had been prescribed days earlier by Bamdad. On April 10 – while the deceased man was participating in an outpatient rehabilitation program – the man obtained a prescription for oxycodone and alprazolam from Bamdad. On April 13, while he was being driven to an in-patient rehabilitation center, the man handed his parents the empty prescription bottles.
The next day, the man was found dead in his room. “Doctors have the responsibility to ensure that narcotics are made available only to patients who truly need the curative effects of the drugs,” said United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. “Dr. Bamdad is accused of violating this basic medical principal by writing prescriptions to people who clearly were obtaining powerful, addictive drugs for recreational purposes or for selling on the street.” Based on observations of Bamdad’s work hours and the number of patients he appeared to be seeing, the DEA estimates that Bamdad’s prescription writing generated approximately $100,000 in cash each week. After reviewing pharmacy records, the DEA determined that Bamdad wrote prescriptions for approximately 70,000 Oxycontin tablets in 2007, making him among the top five Oxycontin prescribers in the area covered by the DEA’s Los Angeles Field Division (seven large California counties, and the states of Nevada and Hawaii).
Both an indictment and a criminal complaint contain allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. Bamdad is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on May 12, 2008, in United States District Court in Los Angeles. The charge of prescribing a Schedule II narcotic without a medical purpose carries a maximum possible penalty of 20 years in federal prison. For the charges that allege he illegally wrote prescriptions for people under 21, that statutory maximum penalty rises to 40 years in prison. The investigation of Dr. Bamdad was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with the assistance the Costa Mesa Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, the San Fernando Police Department, the Baldwin Park Police Department and the Medical Board of California.