Sunday, August 1, 2010

25 Years in Federal Penitentiary for Pill Mill Doc

The is reporting on the 25 year prison sentence handed down to former LA pill mill doctor, Mansoud Bamdad.  The eye-popping sentence reflects the Judge's reaction to the sheer scale of this physician's crimes.  He was in short a major drug dealer.  Reporter Lisa Girion's story follows:

A former San Fernando physician convicted of improperly prescribing powerful painkillers to drug addicts and undercover drug agents was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison and ordered to pay a $1-million fine. The sentence was justified by the scope of Masoud Bamdad's 'pill mill,' the seriousness of his illicit prescribing and his apparent lack of remorse, U.S. District Court Judge George Wu told the court.

Wu cited the prosecution's report that for three years running — including 2008, the year of his arrest —Bamdad ranked among the state's highest prescribers of oxycodone, a powerful narcotic popularly known as 'synthetic heroin.' The volume of his prescriptions exceeded that of many hospitals and pain management clinics, Wu said.

'The offense that was involved here is extremely serious,' Wu said. 'The amount of drug distributed sort of boggles the mind. And it was not victimless.'

A jury convicted Bamdad, 56, in May of 13 counts of illegal drug distribution. Prosecutors portrayed Bamdad as a common drug dealer who sold prescriptions for dangerous drugs to addicts — including teenagers — and others for cash.

The practice netted his Maclay Avenue clinic about $30,000 a week, or $1.5 million a year, authorities said. Prosecutors said Bamdad was motivated by greed, adding that he lived in a Granada Hills mansion, owned several luxury cars and funneled millions of dollars to his native Iran by making cash runs to banks in Mexico.

The prosecutors portrayed Bamdad as the leader of a long-running criminal enterprise that began in 2006 after the physician was convicted of insurance fraud and his cosmetic surgery business sagged. They said that scheme included street dealers who recruited and drove homeless people from San Diego to pose as pain patients.

Jurors deadlocked on an allegation that Bamdad was responsible for the overdose death of 23-year-old patient Alex Clyburn. But Wu allowed Clyburn's parents to testify at the daylong sentencing hearing and considered the doctor's role in prescribing the drugs involved as a factor in the sentence. Bamdad 'was a significant contributor in the death of my son,' Ronald Clyburn told the court.

The sentence was less than the 40 years and $2-million fine sought by prosecutors but far more than the home confinement Bamdad had sought.

The hearing was marked by outbursts from Bamdad, who openly quarreled with Michael Brush, the latest in a series of lawyers hired by Bamdad. At the start of the hearing, the physician threatened to fire Brush and complained to the judge about the performance of the lawyer who represented him at trial.

Brush openly reprimanded his client for speaking directly to the judge and repeatedly told him to keep quiet and let him do his job. Wearing a dingy white jail suit and handcuffs tethered to a waist chain, Bamdad fumbled at the defense table with piles of papers — research he had conducted into an obscure writ that the judge denied, as well as into U.S. sentencing laws — and repeatedly demanded to speak.

When his turn came to address Wu, Bamdad ignored his lawyer's audible plea to apologize and launched into a rambling, half-hour diatribe against prosecutors, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the expert physician witness who testified against him, and even some of his patients and their families.

After about 25 minutes, Wu gave him five minutes to wrap up. Bamdad turned to the speech his lawyer urged him to read. 'I hope and pray,' he concluded through tears, 'that you agree with me that justice is not served by denying me the opportunity to spend the closing chapter of my life with those I love,' Bamdad said, referring to his wife and three daughters who sat in the front row.
When you read local news websites you see lots of this sort of thing, including arrests of individuals in possession of massive quantities of pain killers valued at amounts that make sense on a scale of let's say the national debt. 

Being a recovering alcoholic and having been in active recovery throughout the 1980s and into the early part of the last decade I'm still a little amazed.  I mean I hear people talk about these addictions, and I see evidence of this sort of thing in the "drug screens" of workers' compensation claims--but, it's not until you come across an account like this that you see how it is and why it is that these addictions occur. 

Many years ago the sleazy ambulance chasers that I began my bad lawyering career with utilized a couple of "whore doctors" that were so dubious that rumors would occasionally swirl about this one or that one being prosecuted for "medicare or medicaid" fraud.  One of the docs, a guy I liked and who I got to know and actually had an ongoing dialogue about a anesthesiology malpractice claim I was handling, --was arrested and subsequently convicted of involuntary manslaughter relating to the death of two industrial clinic patients.   That case involved a DEA documented situation involving a patient whose pill intake accelerated to an unblievable level in an impossibly short period of time. 


  1. Michael A. Brush defended by brother and me. He was brilliant in both cases, sparing by brother from 10 years in the state pen and me getting the court to agree to trespassing in my case. He is a ballet dancer. He leaps, turns, sizes up the case while in the air, and lands on his toes keeping his clients from landing in jail (if they keep their mouth shut.

    Robert Keller
    Calabasas, CA

  2. Wolfgang Holst, Big Bear Lake, CANovember 5, 2013 at 2:54 AM

    Michael A. Brush represented me in a civil action against the U.S. Government. I was a Treasury Department employee. Settlement in my favor in 1999 in a case type that is generally quite difficult to win. He also obtained favorable results for other department employees after representing me. I'm retaining him again for further actions against the government.