By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — After half a dozen delays, the defense team for former Falls physician Pravin Mehta is asking a federal magistrate judge to dismiss a 28-count indictment that accuses him of being at the center of a massive illegal prescription drug distribution operation.
The request to dismiss the indictment is contained in a 92-page filing that also asks U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder to bar prosecutors from using at trial any statements made by Mehta or any of his co-defendants or co-conspirators.
The defense motion also demands what is known as a "Bill of Particulars", which asks for the names of undercover agents and confidential informants, as well as very specific information about the drugs Mehta illegally prescribed and exactly where and when he gave out those prescriptions.
Defense attorney Herbert Greenman, co-counsel for Mehta with Joel Daniels, also asks that Schroeder throw out any evidence seized during a search of the one-time doctor's Main Street medical office on the day he was arrested. Greenman also demands that everything that agents seized, from computers to patient records to every individual prescription slip written by Mehta, be returned.
Greenman had been asking for extensions of time to file his motions since March. The filing finally came on Sept. 6.
In his request to dismiss the indictment, Greenman says Mehta can not defend himself against the charges because he doesn't understand what he did wrong.
"Every count alleges that Dr. Mehta issued prescriptions to patients 'without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice'," Greenman wrote. "That phrase has no specific definition nor do we believe that it has any legal value. Simply put, without any structure or definition, there is no way that Dr. Mehta can defend against the charges in the indictment."
Mehta is accused in the federal grand jury indictment with illegally dispensing controlled substances, such as the pain medications Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone and Oxymorphone from his Main Street medical offices without “a legitimate medical purpose and not in the usual course of professional (medical) practice.”
The man known on Cataract City streets as "Dr. Feel Good" has since closed his office and surrendered his license to practice medicine.
Prosecutors had offered Mehta, 73, a plea deal last year. But sources tell the Gazette that against the advice of his own defense attorneys, Mehta turned down the offer.
During a lengthy undercover investigation dubbed "Operation Whatever U Want", agents from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Falls Police narcotics detectives said Mehta, and others working in his medical practice, dispensed prescription narcotics in a massive, doctor fueled, drug trafficking operation.
The law enforcement agents said Mehta had flooded the Falls with a tsunami of prescription pain killers.
Nine other people were accused of obtaining and attempting to obtain controlled substances at local pharmacies by presenting prescriptions they knew were fraudulent or forged. A then current office manager and three former employees of Mehta's medical practice were charged with forging the prescriptions.
So far, seven of Mehta's co-defendants have taken plea deals from prosecutors.
The indictment also asks that Mehta be forced to give up his former medical office building on Main Street and $1.5 million he is accused of pocketing from the prescription drug trafficking scheme.
If he were convicted on the charges in the indictment, Mehta would face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.