(Lawfuel) – A physician with an office in San Fernando was arrested today on federal narcotics charges for allegedly writing prescriptions for powerful and addictive painkillers, such as Oxycodone, for people he did not examine who simply paid him as much as $300 for the prescriptions.
Masoud Bamdad, 54, who resides in Grenada Hills, was arrested at his office without incident this afternoon by special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration pursuant to a criminal complaint filed yesterday in United States District Court in Los Angeles. The complaint alleges that Bamdad accepted cash payments for writing “huge numbers of prescriptions” for narcotics sold under brand names such as Oxycontin, Vicodin and Xanax. In some cases, Bamdad allegedly wrote prescriptions for people who had not come to his office.
According to the complaint, Bamdad drew the attention of federal authorities when an informant reported that Bamdad was over-prescribing controlled substances, such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, in exchange for cash payments. The source said s/he and a friend obtained multiple prescriptions from Bamdad, filled them at pharmacies and then sold the pills for profit. After reviewing pharmacy records, the DEA determined that Bamdad wrote prescriptions for approximately 70,000 Oxycontin tablets in 2007, making him among the top five prescribers in the area covered by the DEA’s Los Angeles Field Office (seven large California counties, and the states of Nevada and Hawaii).
As part of the investigation, DEA agents conducted undercover operations in which they posed as people seeking drugs. Bamdad allegedly wrote prescriptions after brief visits and receiving a cash fee of up to $200 per prescription.
During the undercover meetings, Bamdad either did not examine or made only cursory examinations of the undercover agents, nor did he take thorough medical histories from them. Bamdad prescribed narcotic pain medications despite the undercover agents’ statements that they were not experiencing significant pain, that they were taking them for enjoyment, or that they were seeking narcotic prescription medications on behalf of others. During one meeting, Bamdad and an undercover agent discussed the street price of Oxycontin.
During the course of the investigation, according to the complaint, agents learned that large numbers of individuals were being recruited from San Diego-area homeless shelters to pose as “patients” at Bamdad’s office for the purpose of obtaining prescriptions. In exchange, the homeless individuals would receive $100 and a free lunch.
On Monday, according to the complaint, the DEA learned from a Los Angeles Police detective that a 23-year old man died of an apparent overdose of narcotics that had been prescribed days earlier by Bamdad. On April 10 — while the deceased was participating in an outpatient rehabilitation clinic for drug addiction — the man obtained a prescription for oxycodone and alprazolam from Bamdad. On Sunday, while he was being driven to an in-patient rehabilitation center, the man told his parents that he had taken the pills as he handed his parents the empty prescription bottles. The next day, the man was found dead in his room.
“Doctors who abuse their prescription pads for profit are no better than common drug traffickers,” said United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. “As illustrated by the allegations in this case, wantonly writing prescriptions for dangerous and addictive drugs ignores safeguards intended to prevent precisely the harm that occurred in this case, the death of a 23-year old man.”
Based on observations of Bamdad’s work hours and the number of patients he appears to be seeing, the DEA investigator who authored the complaint affidavit estimates that Bamdad’s prescription writing is generating $105,000 in cash each week.
“Over seven million Americans are currently abusing prescription drugs, and a lot of them get these controlled substances from doctors like Dr. Bamdad, who have no regard for their health,” said Timothy J. Landrum, DEA Special Agent in Charge. “Unfortunately, there are a few doctors such as Dr. Bambad using their position of trust in our communities to prey on those who are vulnerable to the abuse of these drugs.”
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Bamdad is expected to make his initial court appearance tomorrow afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.
The charge contained in the criminal complaint carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
The investigation into Bamdad was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which received assistance from the Costa Mesa Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Baldwin Park Police Department, the San Fernando Police Department and the Medical Board of California.