One of the terms and conditions of bail is "to obey all laws." Committing an offense while on bail is a separate offense and can result in loss of bail. We have had cases where a client committed a new offense while out on bail and it can complicate greatly the defense of a case.
Last week, Yahya Hedvat, a Los Angeles doctor awaiting trial for allegedly prescribing and selling narcotics without a legitimate reason, was arrested for selling hydrocodone to undercover agents. He was arraigned in Los Angeles County Superior Court and pleaded not guilty on August 19, 2014 to the charge in the second case of sale of a controlled substance. His bail was set at $1 million bail. It is also likely that a motion was filed to revoke or increase bail in his first case.
According to City News, Dr. Hedvat was scheduled to go on trial this month on a 10-count indictment accusing him of unlawfully prescribing the drugs hydrocodone, clonazepam and suboxone. Dr. Hedvat was free on his own recognizance while awaiting trial and had surrendered his federal license to prescribe controlled substances, according to the District Attorney's Office.
On August 8, an undercover investigator with the California Medical Board went to Dr. Hedvat's clinic and allegedly negotiated the purchase of narcotics, including Norco and Ativan. Undercover agents allegedly bought the drugs in the clinic's parking lot from Dr. Hedvat's office assistant, Nikravan Hormuz, 70, who was also charged.
Mr. Hormuz pleaded not guilty to the sale of a controlled substance count and posted bail early Saturday. Dr. Hedvat's bail was more complicated and he was not able to post bail at the first appearance.
Attorney Commentary: It is quite likely that the investigation was continued in order to obtain more evidence on the first case or to create another case -- which is what has occurred here. Without a DEA registration, the charge is more serious and enhances the punishment that the doctor faces in his case.
Penal Code Section 23 Order Pending Criminal Case
The new case greatly impacted the criminal case in another way in that it prompted the Medical Board to seek an interim suspension order against him under the authority of Penal Code Section 23. On August 22, 2014, the Judge in issued a PC23 Order that restricted Dr. Hedvat from practicing pending the criminal case. Under the Order, as a condition of bail or own recognizance (O.R.) release during the pendency of this criminal action until its final conclusion and sentence, Dr. Hedvat shall:
1. Forthwith cease and desist from practicing as a physician and surgeon;
2. Be restricted from prescribing, ordering, administering, furnishing, or dispensing any drugs;
3. Surrender to the clerk of the Court, any prescription forms in his possession;
4. Be prohibited from obtaining, ordering, or using any additional prescription forms; and inform his patients that he is not currently permitted to prescribe any drugs due to a pending matter.
The Penal Code Section 23 orders can range from restrictions on practicing to outright prohibition on practicing while the criminal case is pending. This was a complete prohibition and will cause the physician additional economic and professional consequences while the criminal cases are resolved.
When we have a client charged, it is critical to ensure that they (and their office staff) are not engaged in any acts that could be used to revoke bail or create new charges. While it may be difficult for clients to accept the fact that they will need to give up certain activities that may be legal (prescribing any controlled substances for example where there is a valid DEA registration), even that may be preferable to having to defend one's clinical judgment. In this case, it was allegedly more serious without the DEA registration and with an office person who was allegedly engaged in activities that could never be legal.
The lesson: if you are under investigation or charged, be paranoid. Be careful. Do not assume that an investigation is "over" and that law enforcement or the Medical Board does not continue to send in invetigators.
We have seen cases where the Medical Board has sent undercover investigators to a clinic on the date the physician or other medical staff are scheduled to be in court to see what happens at the clinic without the physician. In other words: take these investigations seriously.
Moreover, you can use the time to create good facts and that your office has been cleaned up, is compliant with all laws and regulations. This can help in the defense of the case as well as in any further administrative proceedings.
Posted by Tracy Green, Esq.