A Florida doctor was convicted late last week in federal court in Philadelphia of a fraud scheme involving a trust fund set up to compensate victims of the diet drug known as Fen-Phen.
Abdur Razzak Tai, 79, of Kissimmee, Fla., who practiced cardiology under the name A. Razzak Tai, M.D., and through Tri-County Doctors, Inc. and Medical Legal Consultants, Inc., had been indicted on six counts of mail fraud and seven counts of wire fraud relating to a scheme to defraud a class action settlement established by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals to compensate patients injured by Fen-Phen, a drug that is also the subject of mass tort litigation across the country.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced Sept. 14 that Tai faces up to 20 years in prison for his crimes.
U.S. District Court Judge Juan R. Sanchez, of the federal court in Philadelphia, has scheduled a sentencing hearing for December.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, between 1997 and 2009, Tai devised a scheme to defraud the trust that had been started by American Home Products Corp., later known as Wyeth, and to obtain money and property from the company by means of false and fraudulent representations.
Tai would review echocardiograms of more than 1,110 patients who had filed claims with the American Home Product Settlement Trust in Philadelphia and falsely certified that the patients’ tests showed they had suffered heart damage relating to their ingestion of Fen-Phen.
In reality, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, many of those patients had not been harmed at all.
“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,” states a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “Dr. Tai certified that some patients qualified for the increased settlement benefits when he knew they did not.”
For at least one attorney, the news release states, Tai was paid a set fee of $100 for each echocardiogram that he reviewed.
Tai was also paid $1,500 for each claimant who qualified for benefits when that patient’s claim was paid.
During his criminal trial in Philadelphia, the prosecutors’ office announced, Tai had testified on the stand 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, however, didn’t buy Tai’s account, and eventually convicted the physician on all 13 counts against him after deliberating for less than two hours.