The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts has announced charges against a psychiatrist and his wife for their alleged involvement in a scheme to illegally import medication for alcohol and opioid dependence from China.
Dr. Rahim Shafa, 62, and his wife, Nahid “Nina” Tormosi Shafa, 62, both of Lexington, were indicted on one count of international money laundering conspiracy. Rahim Shafa faces additional charges of money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the United States, importing merchandise contrary to law, and receiving and delivering misbranded drugs with an intent to defraud and mislead. It is unclear if they have acquired legal representation.
According to the indictment, Shafa was a psychiatrist who owned and operated Novel Psychopharmacology, which has offices in Milford and Natick. His wife was reportedly the office manager. From January 2008 to January 2018, the Shafas are accused of illegally importing medication from Hong Kong to sell to patients.
Prosecutors allege the Shafas purchased disulfiram pellet implants, disulfiram injections, and naltrexone pellet implants. Disulfiram and Naltrexone are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of alcohol and opioid dependence, but the forms of the medications the Shafas allegedly purchased were not FDA approved.
“In order to make money, the defendants allegedly circumvented mandatory FDA drug inspections and took advantage of vulnerable patients who sought to escape addiction through legitimate treatment,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling.
The indictment further alleges that Shafa conspired to defraud the U.S. by falsifying shipping documents to make the packages he shipped to his offices look like legal imports. For instance, the packages containing naltrexone pellet implants were falsely declared as “plastic beads in plastic tubes” in shipping documents.
“Distributing illegally imported prescription drugs of unknown origin and ingredients instead of FDA-approved drugs places the U.S. public health at risk,” said Jeffrey J. Ebersole, Special Agent in Charge of the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and bring to justice those who attempt to subvert FDA requirements, which are designed to ensure the safety and quality of drugs to American consumers.”
The investigation into the Shafas’ alleged conduct was performed by Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Lelling, Ebersole, Superintendent Christopher Mason of the Massachusetts State Police, and Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. Mulcahy is listed as the lead prosecutor.
Money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering are serious offenses. If convicted, the Shafas face a maximum prison sentence of up to 20 years in prison and fines as high as $250,000. Conspiracy to defraud the United States carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Illegally importing merchandise carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Anyone accused of committing financial crimes and fraud by the federal government should immediately consult an experienced attorney who can perform an independent investigation and determine the best way to minimize the penalties or have the charges completely dropped.
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