A former Western Slope physician who was found to have prescribed drugs without a legitimate medical purpose briefly resurfaced — on YouTube, discussing the opioid crisis.
Sam Jahani, who settled a 2011 federal indictment with a plea in 2016 to a charge of conspiracy involving health care fraud, appeared in a 2018 New Year’s Eve clip, which surfaced in the area community earlier this week. The video was no longer on YouTube as of Friday, but was recorded by the Montrose Daily Press.
In the clip, a man introduced as “Dr. Sam Jahani” discusses with an interviewer the opioid crisis and what the Drug Enforcement Administration can do to help physicians manage it.
During his federal case, Jahani surrendered his Colorado medical license and subsequently lost his Texas medical license.
Although he has applied to have his Texas license reissued and retains his medical degree, Texas had not as of Thursday granted relicensure.
This information was not provided in the YouTube video the Montrose Daily Press reviewed. Jahani did not in the video state he is a practicing physician.
Messages left Friday on Jahani’s cell phone were not returned by deadline.
A representative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office saw the clip prior to its apparent removal and confirmed it did not violate the terms of Jahani’s sentence, which had been served.
Jahani in the video was asked how the understanding of opioids has changed, and how physicians should be changing how they are prescribing opioids and managing pain. He was also asked how the DEA can help doctors.
“Well, you know, I think a lot of times, doctors will help people with pain and suffering and a lot of times they don’t realize their particular use of particular medication is maybe more than their colleagues’ or other people in the community,” Jahani said, going on to say that doctors need to educate themselves and be aware of their use of medication.
Jahani’s YouTube video garnered scant views on the site. But it this week caught the attention of a community Facebook message board in Delta. On the board’s thread, some people praised Jahani’s medical acumen and care, but others noted his federal case and licensure issue.
According to the U.S. District Court’s record, Jahani pleaded to the conspiracy charge involving health care fraud and money laundering related to it, and “distribution of controlled substances in a manner inconsistent with the usual course of medical practice.”
He served a six-month term, followed by six months of home confinement as part of a yearlong probation, which he has completed.
Jahani formerly operated urgent care clinics in Montrose and Grand Junction, plus a clinic in Delta. These facilities closed when federal and local agents raided them and Jahani’s Montrose home in 2009.
An indictment was issued in 2011; it also named his associate, Eric Peper.
At Jahani’s sentencing in 2016, U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello said she did not believe Jahani would have been convicted on the multiple counts in the indictment, which had alleged his and Peper’s prescribing practices contributed to four patient deaths.
According to transcripts released after sentencing, Arguello said she did not see evidence of that. She said also that the indictment’s charges would have been difficult, even impossible, to prove at trial.
The prosecutor said there were 16 instances in which Jahani prescribed narcotics to vulnerable patients, without legitimate medical purpose. By the time of sentencing, the government did not allege further wrongful conduct, sentencing transcripts say, and Jahani did not admit to further wrongful conduct.
Jahani at the time told the court he had been trying to help a community that had a desperate need for pain management, but did not realize how complex an undertaking it was.
He said he regretted not being able to distinguish patients who complied with treatment from those who were abusing their medications. He also apologized and said he “looked forward” to proving himself.
“I hope my case and admission of criminal wrongdoing will shed further light on the complexities and these public issues that come with longterm pain management,” he said, per the transcripts. “ … I have been charged with something I never intended to do.”
Jahani indicated in a Dec. 2, 2018 federal court filing that he was seeking relicensure as a physician in Texas. He asked for, and was granted, access to an expert’s report which he said he needed to take to the Texas Medical Board for a Dec. 6, 2018 meeting.
Whether that meeting took place, and any outcome, is not clear.
“What I can confirm is that this individual does not have a license or a reinstated license,” Texas Medical Board spokesman Jarrett Schneider said Thursday.
As of Thursday, Jahani’s licensure status in Texas was listed as “not active.” The record indicates he applied for relicensing in March 2018.
People with medical degrees are allowed to identify themselves as doctors if they can designate the authority under which the title is used or the college or honorary degree that gives rise to use of the title, Schneider said.
Katharhynn Heidelberg is the senior writer for the Montrose Daily Press. Follow her on Twitter @kathMDP.