DOJ accuses San Jose doctor of forging, abusing opioid prescriptions

DOJ accuses San Jose doctor of forging, abusing opioid prescriptions

SAN JOSE — A South Bay radiologist has been arrested and charged by the California Department of Justice with conspiring with a network of phony patients to write illegal prescriptions — in some instances forging another doctor’s signature — to illicitly procure thousands of opioid painkillers, authorities said.

Dr. Arash Padidar, who works at a San Jose-based surgical practice, was arrested Friday and booked at the Santa Clara County Main Jail, where his initial bail was set at $100,000. He was scheduled to be arraigned in a San Jose courtroom Friday afternoon.

Padidar has been charged with seven-drug related felonies that include issuing a prescription without a legitimate medical purpose, obtaining controlled substances by fraud and deceit, forging and issuing a prescription, unlawful use of personal identifying information, and conspiracy to commit a crime. Each count carries a maximum prison term of three years.

“Doctors are trusted with the immense responsibility of protecting our health and our lives,” state Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. “When a bad actor exploits their position for personal gain, they not only shatter our trust, they harm vulnerable patients.”

The medical practice where Padidar worked, Minimally Invasive Surgical Solutions, did not immediately return a request for comment. It is not clear from the DOJ’s criminal complaint whether the doctor whose signature Padidar is accused of forging works at the same practice.

Investigators with the DOJ’s Division of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse contends that between October 2018 and October 2020, the doctor wrote nearly two-dozen illegitimate prescriptions for Norco, a brand name for hydrocodone pain medication.

Deputy Attorney General Amy Bellah, who wrote the criminal complaint, chronicled in meticulous detail how Padidar allegedly prescribed 2,350 Norco pills to more than a half-dozen people, including his wife and father, on the agreement that he would receive some or all of the drugs.

Among those recipients was a former employee of Padidar who tipped off San Jose police and the Drug Enforcement Administration to the alleged drug scheme after she was fired in July 2019, according to the complaint.

The complaint cites text messages and emails between Padidar and people he tapped to obtain the prescriptions, whose names are redacted in the public court document, that use coded language like “tickets” to discuss the prescription pickups at several South Bay pharmacies in San Jose, Campbell and Los Gatos.

Most of the prescriptions were for 100 pills each, and Bellah wrote that Padidar kept a running log on a notetaking app on his iPhone. The complaint cites how in many instances, the co-conspirators would drop off some if not all of the pills to Padidar, though it’s unclear in the document whether that occurred at his office, his home, or another location.

No one else has been charged to this point in the case, and the complaint makes clear that at least some of the people involved knew what they were doing was not above board. The document includes an email excerpt in which Padidar is reportedly asked, “For the future, please I would like not to have my name on the prescription. I don’t mind picking it up when it’s needed but since it’s a controlled medication I prefer not to have (it) under my name.”

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The alleged scheme came to the attention of authorities after the fired employee, who carried out some of the phony prescriptions, blew the whistle on Padidar. The complaint contends that the alleged crimes would not have come to light otherwise.

“By spreading around the prescriptions in the name of various individuals and even using another doctor’s prescribing information, he fraudulently obtained the medication and concealed his activities from law enforcement,” Bellah wrote.

This is a developing story. Check back later for updates.