Fen-Phen A Go Go: Cardiologist Sentenced To 6 Years For $4.5 Million Fraud In Fen-Phen Trust Fund
By: Leslie A. Mariotti
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Juan R. Sanchez sentenced a 79 year old cardiologist, Dr. Abdur Razzak Tai, to six years in prison and ordered him to pay $4.5 million in restitution for his role in defrauding a trust fund designed to compensate victims of the Fen-Phen diet drug. At the sentencing hearing, Tai’s attorney had requested home confinement arguing that, because of his age and health, Tai would certainly die in prison. The government opposed the defense’s request and argued that imprisonment was appropriate in light of Tai’s misconduct.
Fen-Phen, a combination of fenfluarmine and phentermine, was taken off the market in 1997 after reports that the drugs had caused serious heart damage. Now part of Pfizer, Wyeth marketed Fen-Phen but entered into a class action settlement worth billions of dollars and established a trust to provide benefits for those who were injured by the pharmaceutical. Tai’s sentencing followed a jury trial during which the government presented evidence that Tai was compensated $1,500 for each claimant who qualified for trust benefits. The government also claimed that one attorney paid Tai $100 for each echocardiogram that he read.
Testifying on his own behalf at trial, Tai claimed that his medical reports were forged by the lawyer who had hired him and who had paid him on a contingency fee basis. However, after deliberating for less than two hours, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all 13 counts – six counts of mail fraud and seven counts of wire fraud.