Doctor seeks to withdraw plea in sex-for-drugs case
An Indiana doctor who admitted to trading prescriptions for sex is being placed on house arrest while a judge decides whether he will allow him to withdraw his guilty plea.
Dr. Tahir Usman Mir had been free on bond as he awaited trial on charges of conspiracy, Medicaid fraud and unlawfully prescribing controlled substances. Considered a flight risk, he will be confined to his home and electronically monitored until he is either sentenced, or, if President Judge William Martin allows, tried before a jury.
Mir, who ran the defunct Indiana Walk-In Clinic, stands accused of giving two women prescriptions for painkillers, cash and gift cards in exchange for sex. The case was headed to trial, but Mir ultimately averted it by entering a last-minute guilty plea on the day jury selection was to have begun. Martin told Mir then that by admitting guilt, he could face 67 years in prison, essentially a life sentence for the 62-year-old doctor.
Mir filed a motion last week asking to withdraw his plea.
In a written argument, Mir’s attorney, Marc Daffner, of Pittsburgh, said Mir did not understand the charges he pleaded to, did not have enough time to fully consider what he was pleading to and, most importantly, asserts that he did not do what prosecutors contend he did.
It was an assertion Mir reiterated when he took the stand Friday morning during a hearing on the matter. “I am innocent of all these charges,” he told the court.
But Pennsylvania Senior Deputy Attorney General Mark Serge disputed that.
He told Martin Mir is either stalling for time or gambling that a delay will somehow hinder the prosecution’s ability to produce witnesses supporting his case.
“He’s playing fast and loose with the guilty plea process,” Serge said, pointing out that despite having entered a guilty plea more than three months ago, Mir waited until 10 days before his sentencing to withdraw his plea.
Serge questioned Mir on the circumstances surrounding his withdrawal motion, leading to a testy exchange between the two.
Serge asked Mir if it was not in fact the case that on the day Mir was arrested, law enforcement agents found him in an apartment above the clinic, prescription in hand, awaiting the arrival of one of the women for a rendezvous. “No, that is your interpretation,” Mir said angrily.
Martin did not immediately rule on the motion. Instead, he rescheduled a possible date of sentencing for March 22, and he scheduled a possible date for trial of June 27.
Serge raised concerns about whether Mir might flee in the meantime.
He told the court that Mir apparently has access to cash, and he said Mir gave money to some family members. He also said he has ties to London and Pakistan, where he was born.
In addition, Serge disclosed the existence of a broader investigation into Mir’s practice and said it may yield additional charges against the doctor.
The case against Mir, as it is now, centers solely on his relationship with the two female patients, but the investigation is looking at his practice as a whole, Serge explained following the hearing.
Daffner, however, said his client is not a flight risk. For one, he has surrendered his passport, he said. And secondly, Mir has so far presented himself for all court dates, he added. And third, he doesn’t have the financial means to flee, he said.
Martin, pointing to some inconsistencies in Mir’s contact information as well as some phone numbers that had been disconnected, agreed with the prosecution, ordering that he be confined to his home for the time being.