CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The attorney for a Kanawha County medical doctor who pleaded guilty this week to a federal drug charge said Friday he’ll argue that his client spend only five years in prison.
Charleston attorney Michael Hissam represents Dr. Muhammed Nasher who pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of illegal drug distribution.
The plea bargain brought to a close a second attempt by federal prosecutors to convict Nasher. A jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict following a 15-day trial in April and May and a second trial stalled when after U.S. Judge David Faber ruled in favor of the defense on several suppression issues. The U.S. Attorney’s Office appealed the ruling to the Fourth Circuit.
Hissam told MetroNews Friday his client’s plea is a binding plea so instead of him facing the 20 years the conviction carries, Judge Faber will sentence him between five and 10 years behind bars.
“It caps his maximum exposure to 10 years,” Hissam said. “We’ll absolutely be asking Judge Faber to sentence Dr. Nasher to the low end of that binding range, five years.”
Federal prosecutors dropped 42 other charges against Nasher as part of the plea agreement. He pleaded guilty to a charge of prescribing his brother pain medication without the required paperwork, Hissam said.
“Unlike with his other patients where he kept records, for his brother’s prescription he did not document any medical reason for distributing controlled substances to him,” Hissam said. “He didn’t have a chart, it was his brother, so there was no charting, no notes, no written justification for the prescription.”
U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart released the following statement:
“Nasher is now an admitted felon and faces up to ten years – TEN YEARS- in a federal prison. A drug dealer in a lab coat is still just a drug dealer,” Stuart said. “Nasher will never practice medicine again. Ever. Nasher will never write another prescription. Ever. And Nasher will never treat another patient. Ever. We’re cracking down hard across the board – medical professionals, doctors, pharmacists, street dealers and traffickers – in a multi-pronged aggressive approach intended to cut the head off the snake. Medical professionals should take note that if they abuse the prescribing privileges of their profession, and I stress that they are a privilege, my office will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law and I will seek the maximum sentence in every case.”
As part of the plea deal, Nasher is required to surrender his medical license and his registration with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 2 in U.S. District Court in Charleston.
Nasher was originally accused of providing drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and methadone to individuals who did not need them. He was also accused of trying to hide his drug business by transferring $290,000 to a Turkish financial institution. Both allegations that Nasher continually denied.