Fen-Phen Fraud Doctor Sentenced to 72 Months in Prison
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 26, 2013|
PHILADELPHIA—Dr. Abdur Razzak Tai, 79, of Kissimmee, Florida, was sentenced today to six years in prison for a fraud scheme involving a trust fund set up to compensate victims of the Fen-Phen diet drug. Tai, who practiced cardiology under the name A. Razzak Tai M.D. and through Tri-County Doctors Inc. and Medical Legal Consultants Inc., was convicted in September 2011 on six counts of mail fraud and seven counts of wire fraud.
American Home Products Corporation, later known as Wyeth, entered into a class action settlement, which established a Trust to pay benefits to persons injured by Fen-Phen with money contributed by Wyeth. Between 1997 and 2009, Tai devised a scheme to defraud the Seventh Amendment, the Trust and Wyeth, and to obtain money and property from them by means of false and fraudulent representations. He reviewed the echocardiograms of more than 1,100 patients who filed claims with the American Home Product Settlement Trust in Philadelphia and falsely certified that the patients’ tests showed that they had sustained heart damage. In reality, many of those claimants had not been harmed.
For at least one lawyer, Dr. Tai was paid a set fee of $100 for each echocardiogram that he read. In addition, Tai was to be compensated $1,500 for each claimant who qualified for benefits when that patient’s claim was paid. Dr. Tai wrote reports and signed certifications attesting that claimants had suffered heart damage on some occasions when he knew that the tests showed that they had not and, on other occasions, when he knew that he had not personally reviewed the test results to determine whether they had suffered heart damage. By misreporting measurements from the echocardiogram, the severity of a claimant’s medical condition could be exaggerated, thereby improperly qualifying the claimant for hundreds of thousands of dollars more in benefits. Dr. Tai certified that some patients qualified for the increased settlement benefits when he knew they did not.
At trial, Dr. Tai testified that his medical reports had been forged by the mass-tort lawyer who had hired him and who had paid him on a contingency fee basis. The jury returned a verdict of guilty on all 13 counts after deliberating for less than two hours.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Juan R. Sanchez ordered Tai to pay restitution in the amount of $4.5 million, a $15,000 fine, a special assessment of $1,300, and ordered three years of supervised release. Tai was immediately remanded.
The case was investigated by the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Paul Shapiro.