Pubdate: Fri, 31 Dec 2004
Source: Kentucky Post (KY)
Copyright: 2004 Kentucky Post
Author: Kevin Eigelbach
Note: Addresses removed by mapinc editor


A local doctor investigated for his prescription-writing practices has
settled a forfeiture case brought against him by the federal government. Dr.
Ghassan Haj-Hamed's attorney, Bob Carran, said he hopes the settlement will
end any questions about the doctor's practice.

The government sued the doctor in September 2002, saying his Riverside
Medical Clinics and Urgent Care Centers were connected with illegal drug

The settlement agreed on earlier this month calls for the doctor to
surrender the properties at (Address omitted), plus $17,325 and two Mercedes
Benz automobiles. But the government agreed to give up claims to three
properties: (Addresses omitted)

The government also relinquished its claim to $133,000 in bank accounts in
the doctor's name or the names of family members.

The doctor settled the case because he felt compelled to, Carran said. When
the government can take away or seize everything someone has even before
bringing a criminal charge against him, and then follow up by sending him
tax bills he can't pay because the government has his property, it
"inevitably puts the person in a position where they have to settle," Carran
said. "Dr. Haj-Hamed settled. He's giving up some of the property, but he's
getting back enough to pay his tax bills and the debts he incurred while his
property was seized."

Asked if the government was pursuing a criminal case against Haj-Hamed,
Carran said he couldn't answer for the United States. David Olinger Jr., the
assistant U.S. attorney in charge of the case, couldn't be reached for
comment on Thursday afternoon. According to federal court documents, drug
enforcement agencies started receiving complaints about Haj-Hamed's clinics
late in 2000. A Drug Enforcement Agency agent said in an affidavit that the
doctor illegally prescribed controlled substances that were resold on the
illegal drug market.

A DEA agent told the court he believed the doctor had concealed some profits
from his alleged illegal activities by putting money in his daughter's and
wife's bank accounts. "Dr. Haj-Hamed has amassed great wealth through his
practice of illegally prescribing prescription medication," the agent wrote
in an affidavit.

The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure suspended Haj-Hamed's license to
practice medicine in February 2003, but reinstated it in August with
restrictions. Ohio suspended his license in April.

He cannot practice at his Bellevue and Falmouth clinics or at those in West
Chester Township in Butler County, Ohio, and the Cincinnati neighborhood of
Oakley. The Syrian national can practice only at Tri-State Urgent Care in
Cold Spring.
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