Patients could play roles in Colo. docs’ drug case
September 7, 2012
GRAND JUNCTION – As many as 300 patients could be involved in the case against two Western Slope doctors charged with overprescribing painkillers.
According to court filings reported by The Daily Sentinel on Friday, prosecutors said the patients could be used to support drug charges and fraud charges against Dr. Sam Jahani and Dr. Eric Peper.
The filing offers a first glimpse of the case against the doctors who operated clinics in Grand Junction, Delta and Montrose. The clinics were closed after raids in October 2009
Jahani and Peper are accused of overprescribing several narcotics, resulting in the deaths of four patients. They’re also accused of fraudulently billing government health care programs. In some cases, Jahani billed for services he claimed to have provided after the patients’ deaths, according to prosecutors.
The doctors pleaded not guilty last month and are free on bond.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer wrote in the court filings that an expert witness would testify to “concerning treatment” practices involving 47 of those patients.
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The case does not have a scheduled trial time. The location also has not been set. Prosecutors want to present the case to a Grand Junction jury, while the defense wants the case tried in Denver.
A defense filing raised suggestions of ethnic and religious bigotry with a potential western Colorado jury.
“Although Dr. Jahani is a Christian, he is often assumed to be a Muslim based on his name and ethnic origin, and he has been the subject of anti-Muslim comments in Western Slope communities,” according to the defense filing.
Prosecutors noted in response that a Grand Junction jury pool would draw from residents in 14 counties.