Jahani, Peper trials in patient deaths to be in Denver
An estimated 300 former patients, other victims and witnesses from the Western Slope will have to travel to Denver to attend trials for two doctors accused in the deaths of four patients, according to a judge’s ruling this past week.
A date has not yet been set for the trials. Drs. Sam Jahani and Eric Peper pleaded not guilty in August 2011 to charges including health care fraud and health care fraud resulting in death.
The physicians were 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.
U.S. District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello ruled it would be most fair to the defendants and victims to stage the trials in Denver. Trials are expected to run 16 weeks.
Attorneys for Jahani and Peper argued in a prior motion that holding the trials in Grand Junction would be more inconvenient for the doctors and their attorneys and investigators who are based in Denver. Both doctors are free on bond. Jahani lives in Texas and Peper lives in Florida.
Also, defense attorneys argued that a number of potential defense witnesses are located in Denver.
“In contrast, the Government has offered little support that the victims in this case will be inconvenienced by a Denver trial. The Government has not specifically identified any living victims in this case, but rather speaks in generalities about the community’s concerns,” the ruling states. “The Government’s ‘belief’ that ‘hundreds’ of Defendants’ former patients have “some kind of personal interest” in the case does not persuade the Court to move the trial so as to accommodate the speculative interests of unnamed victims who allegedly would be inconvenienced by the Denver forum.”
Jahani and Peper operated urgent care clinics in Grand Junction, Montrose and Delta. The clinics were raided by agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration in October 2009.