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Indian-American doctor gets 2 yrs jail in US

Washington, Jul 20, 2013 (PTI): 14:51 IST
An Indian-American doctor, who owned weight loss clinics in the US, has been sentenced to two years in prison for illegally dispensing millions of pills containing amphetamine-based controlled substances to patients.

The court in Indiana also sentenced his wife for federal income tax evasion relating to their operation of the clinics. Dr Rakesh Anand, 57, and his wife Meena Anand, 53, both of whom owned and managed Doctors Weight Loss Clinics in Indiana and Illinois, were also ordered yesterday to pay USD 745,872 in restitution to the IRS from nearly USD 5.2 million that was seized from them and ordered forfeited.

Both of them had pleaded guilty in January. Judge Van Bokkelen fined Rakesh USD 750,000 and ordered him to begin serving his two-year sentence on August 30. Meena was fined USD 100,000 and ordered to begin serving her 30-day sentence on September 3.

In his guilty plea, Rakesh admitted that between January 2002 and February 2010, he and another physician, Dr. Dinesh Saraiya, purchased and dispensed more than one million pills containing Phendimetrazine, a Schedule III controlled substance, and more than three million pills containing Phentermine, a Schedule IV controlled substance.

The Anands grossed more than USD 5 million from their operation of the three weight loss clinics.

Saraiya, 75, cooperated in the case and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 30 in a Chicago court. According to court records, between 2002 and February 2010, Rakesh hired Saraiya, who agreed with him to illegally dispense the amphetamine-based controlled substances as weight loss medications to patients without performing physical examinations or any medical tests, and without reviewing patients' records, obtaining a complete medical history, or providing any subsequent monitoring.

In return, Rakesh paid Saraiya based on how many patients he saw and how many pills he dispensed to patients on a daily basis, the federal prosecutors alleged. "In dispensing the medications, Rakesh and Saraiya failed to determine whether patients had first made a reasonable effort to lose weight through diet and exercise, a prerequisite to prescribing controlled substances for weight loss," the Justice Department said. "In some instances, Rakesh employed clerks to dispense the controlled substances even though he was not present and had not consulted with them," it said.

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