By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A federal judge rejected a defense request for house arrest and sentenced a 79-year-old Florida cardiologist to six years in prison for fraud linked to the infamous fen-phen diet drugs and national settlement funds.
The prosecution argued for a sentence of about 7 to 9 years in prison.
Prosecutor Paul Shapiro says Doctor Abdur Razzak Tai took fees for examining patients who suspected heart damage from fen-phen and that Doctor Tai diagnosed heart damage again and again — even when there was none.
“He presumably made the people who he was working for, which was ultimately lawyers, happy with his results so they would send him more business, and he got paid for every read that he did,” says Shapiro.
Shapiro also says the fraud cost settlement funds several million dollars, but there was also a human cost.
“Number one, on his patients, who were told they were sick. And so some of them might have put themselves in line for surgery, they might have changed the way they lived their lives, they might have chosen not to do things, not to engage in certain activities because they thought they had a heart condition when they really didn’t,” Shapiro explains.
And Shapiro says fraud on the fund left less money for people who actually are sick.