Jasper Pain Clinic Physician Sentenced to Nearly Three Years in Prison for Illegally Dispensing Narcotics
BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge today sentenced a Vestavia Hills physician and owner of a Jasper neurology and pain clinic to nearly three years in prison for dispensing narcotic painkillers without a legitimate medical reason, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge Clay A. Morris and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Sec. Stan Stabler.
U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler sentenced Dr. MUHAMMAD WASIM ALI, 51, on 10 counts of unlawfully distributing controlled substances "outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose" to three people working undercover with law enforcement. Ali pleaded guilty to the charges in November.
The judge sentenced Ali to 30 months in prison, ordered him to forfeit $2,450 to the government as proceeds of illegal activity, and fined him $85,000. The judge also placed him on supervised release for three years following his prison term. During the supervised release, he cannot work in any medical facility that handles or prescribes controlled substances. In the course of the investigation and prosecution, Ali surrendered both his DEA Controlled Substances Registration, which enabled him to write prescriptions, as well as his medical license. The 30-month sentence, fine and forfeiture are in accord with a binding plea agreement reached between the government and Ali. Ali must report to prison in 30 days.
Ali practiced medicine at the Walker Rural Health Care/Jasper Neurological Care clinic. According to his guilty plea, Ali dispensed 1,100 oxycodone pills to three undercover officers between August 2014 and November 2014 without conducting acceptable medical examinations or requesting and/or reviewing medical records. Ali’s medical files for the three individuals listed multiple falsified examinations and multiple falsified and baseless diagnoses.
“Abuse of prescription opiates, which contributes to heroin addiction, is a nationwide problem that has resulted in epidemic overdose death rates,” Vance said. “Alabama leads the nation in the number of per capita prescriptions for opioid painkillers, a troublesome distinction. While responsible and legitimate painkiller prescribing is an important part of the practice of medicine, doctors who use their prescription pads to provide opiates without legitimate medical reason are illegally dealing drugs,” she said. “My office and our law enforcement partners are committed to shutting that down.”
“The use, abuse, distribution and diversion of opiate pharmaceutical drugs are at epidemic levels in Alabama and across the United States,” Morris said. “The doctors who abandon their Hippocratic Oath and distribute highly addictive pain medicine without a legitimate medical purpose hurt our communities and ruin the great reputation of the many doctors who work tirelessly to help others,” he said. “Today’s sentence should send a clear message to those who illegally distribute drugs. DEA and our law enforcement partners will work relentlessly to protect our communities, citizens and neighborhoods against illegal drug distribution that leads to drug addiction and ruined lives.”
“The illegal distribution and abuse of opiate drugs continues to be a great concern in Alabama,” Stabler said. “This growing problem impacts the lives of many families -- regardless of their demographics. State Bureau of Investigation narcotics agents worked closely with our federal partners during the course of this investigation,” he said. “We will continue to work as a team and collaborate with federal, state, county and municipal law enforcement agencies to fight the unlawful distribution of illegal drugs.”
Ali was one of three Birmingham-area physicians charged last year as part of DEA's Operation Pilluted in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, which focused on reducing trafficking and abuse of pharmaceuticals.
The DEA, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chinelo Diké-Minor and Robin Beardsley Mark prosecuted.