Imposter Doc Guilty of Prescribing Over 200K Opioid Doses: DOJ

Megan Brooks

September 05, 2019

A 61-year-old man from Katy, Texas, accused of posing as a physician at an unregistered pain clinic, has been found guilty for his role at the "pill mill" that illegally doled out hundreds of thousands of doses of opioids and other controlled substances, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said Wednesday in a statement.

After a 5-day trial, a jury found Muhammad Arif guilty of one count of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances and three counts of unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances. Arif will be sentenced at a later date. 

According to the evidence, Arif conspired with a doctor and the owner of Aster Medical Clinic in Rosenberg, Texas, to run an illegal pill mill.

"The evidence showed that Arif was not licensed to practice medicine in the United States, but posed as a physician at Aster Medical Clinic, saw patients as if he were a physician, and wrote prescriptions for patients on prescription pads that had been pre-signed by the doctor, Arif's co-conspirator," the DOJ said in the statement.

From September 2015 through February 2016, Aster Medical Clinic dispensed prescriptions for more than 200,000 dosage units of hydrocodone, a schedule II controlled substance, and over 145,000 dosage units of carisoprodol, a schedule IV controlled substance, the DOJ said. 

Aster Medical Clinic wrote illegal prescriptions for controlled substances to more than 40 people on its busiest days, according to the evidence.

The DOJ said "crew leaders" recruited numerous people to pose as patients at Aster Medical Clinic and paid for their visits in order to obtain prescriptions for controlled substances that the crew leaders would then sell on the street. The clinic charged roughly $250 for each patient visit, and required payment in cash, the evidence shows.

Two co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme. Baker Niazi, 48, of Sugar Land, Texas, and Waleed Khan, 47, of Parker, Texas, are awaiting sentencing before US District Judge Alfred H. Bennett of the Southern District of Texas.

Earlier this week, as reported by Medscape Medical News, the DOJ charged 41 people in nine indictments for their alleged involvement in a network of "pill mills" that allegedly resulted in the diversion of roughly 23 million oxycodone, hydrocodone, and carisoprodol pills.

Those charged include medical providers, clinic owners and managers, pharmacists, and pharmacy owners and managers, as well as drug dealers and traffickers.

The DOJ "continues to relentlessly pursue criminals, including medical professionals, who peddle opioids for profit," Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski, from the DOJ's Criminal Division, said in a statement.

For more news, follow Medscape on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and YouTube


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.