300 witnesses possible in case against doctors
Ex-patients of Jahani, Peper likely to testify, prosecutors say
If it ever goes to trial, federal prosecutors said in a recent court filing their case against Dr. Sam Jahani and Dr. Eric Peper may include more than 300 former patients to support charges of controlled-substances and health care fraud.
An endorsed government expert, Dr. Theodore Parran, would testify to “concerning treatment” practices involving 47 of those patients, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer wrote in a government notice filed in the case.
The filing offers a first glimpse of the case against Jahani and Peper, who operated clinics in Grand Junction, Delta and Montrose, which were shuttered after raids in October 2009.
“The United States will offer total numbers of controlled substances prescribed by the defendants during the period alleged (Jan. 2006-April 2010) and how those numbers compare with other similarly situated healthcare providers,” the filing reads.
Jahani and Peper are still free on bond a little more than a year after being indicted by a federal grand jury on allegations they overprescribed several narcotics, resulting in the deaths of four patients. They’re also accused of billing government health care programs at a higher reimbursement rate than what was justified for services rendered. In some cases, Jahani allegedly billed for services he claimed to have provided after the patients’ deaths.
While Jahani and Peper pleaded not guilty on Aug. 30, 2011, the case does not have scheduled trial dates. Also unresolved is the location of the trial, as prosecutors seek 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,” reads a defense filing.
Prosecutors noted in response a Grand Junction jury pool would draw from residents in 14 counties.