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BIRMINGHAM -- A federal grand jury today indicted a physician and owner of a Jasper neurology and pain clinic on illegal drug distribution charges for dispensing narcotic painkillers for other than legitimate medical purposes. U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge Clay A. Morris and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillott announced the charges.
An indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges Dr. MUHAMMAD WASIM ALI, 50, of Vestavia Hills, with 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 owns and practices at the Walker Rural Health Care/Jasper Neurological Care clinic. DEA agents arrested Ali and searched his clinic on March 27.
The 10 distribution counts charge 10 instances that Ali illegally dispensed oxycodone, an opioid painkiller, to three undercover agents between August 2014 and November 2014. According to the indictment, Ali dispensed 1,100 oxycodone pills to the three people within those three months.
"Narcotic painkillers have an important and legitimate use in medical treatment, but Alabama leads the nation in the number of prescriptions per capita for opioid painkillers," Vance said. "Opiates are extremely addictive, and the use and abuse of opioid painkillers often lead to the abuse of and addiction to heroin, which is killing people in record numbers," she said. "Physicians who provide these dangerous narcotics without justifiable medical reasons must be stopped."
"The use and abuse of prescription opioid pain relievers for non-medical reasons is at epidemic levels across the United States, and Alabama is no exception," Morris said. "The DEA enjoys outstanding relationships with the vast majority of DEA registrants, including physicians; however, physicians who have abandoned their duties and the Hippocratic Oath cannot be tolerated. Those whose sole purpose is to profit from the addictions of others will be stopped," he said. "The abuse of opioid-based drugs is deadly. DEA remains committed to removing all drug sources of supply from our communities."
“The federal laws that regulate structuring requirements are in place to detect and stop those knowingly and willfully structuring to conceal their illegal activities,” Hyman-Pillot said. “Individuals who structure currency transactions are attempting to circumvent the law. This type of suspicious behavior will be thoroughly investigated in an effort to reveal underlying criminal activity,” she said.
The indictment against Ali also charges him with two counts of illegally possessing with intent to distribute controlled substances on March 27. One count charges illegal possession with intent to distribute hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl, and a second count charges illegal possession with intent to distribute amphetamine salts and oxycodone.
The indictment's 13th count charges Ali with structuring currency transactions totaling about $151,480 at Wells Fargo Bank between July 10, 2014, and Dec. 8, 2014, in order to avoid the requirement that banks report transactions of $10,000 or more to the U.S. Treasury.
The maximum penalty for the distribution counts is 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The maximum penalty for financial structuring is 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
The DEA and IRS-CI investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Holt is prosecuting.
An indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.