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DALLAS, TX (August 27, 2008) – The federal government’s largest health fraud case involving online pharmacies was scheduled to conclude today with the sentencing of Ryokesh Johar Saran (Joe Saran) before US District Judge Jorge A. Solis in the Northern District of Texas. Saran as well and the 30 corporations he controlled were scheduled for sentencing. Sentencing for the corporate and individual defendants was indefinitely postponed due to the apparent heart attack Saran suffered en route to court.
Benson Weintraub, the nationally renown federal sentencing expert and a former full-time professor of law along with publisher of the Health Care Fraud Blog, Robert Malove, both of Fort Lauderdale have represented Saran and the corporate defendants for more than two-years and have been mounting a virtually unprecedented course of complex presentece litigation. The defense has challenged the criminalization of Group Purchasing Organizations (GPO), comparing it to “pharmaceutical arbitrage” according to recent defense pleadings.
Though the government’s theory of “intended loss” reflects a gross exaggeration of loss, artificially inflating the sentencing range called for by the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines. The amount of restitution, $69,000, better reflects the relative severity of the offense behavior caused by Saran and 30 individual codefendants,
The case was launched by the US Attorney General’s office with much fanfare, but Saran, the lead defendant and virtually only one not yet sentenced, has challenged the methodology by which the government arrived at its loss calculations, particularly in view of the “actual loss” associated with the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act (MVRA).
Defense lawyers and US Attorneys are tracking the Saran case as a benchmark in health care fraud sentencing litigation based on the novel issues presented by his counsel. Similar theories of “loss” asserted by the DOJ Trial Attorneys from Washington were recently rejected by two federal judges in Miami before whom Weintraub and Malove recently prevailed at sentencing.
The defense issued subpoenas for agents of the FBI and FDA as part of it’s reaction to the prosecution’ failure to abide by its earlier commitment to turn over all Brady material in mitigation of punishment. The government moved to quash the subpoenas and that litigation, too, is still in progress. The defense preemptively filed a motion to enforce the government’s promise made one-year ago of an incremental turnover of Brady materials and the defendant’s statements. Parenthetically, Chad Meacham, lead counsel for the Dallas US Attorneys office, repudiated the discovery stipulation reached between the defense and his predecessor, Bill McMurrey, now a partner at the Dallas office of Bracewell and Giuliani.

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