August 18, 2017
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced felony charges against Wayne County doctor, Mohammad Derani, 67 of West Bloomfield, and Zahra Alwajed, 28 of Detroit, a medical assistant working at the Dearborn Medical Clinic for prescribing opioids and other controlled substances for illegitimate purposes.
“Any doctor who knowingly prescribes such highly addictive opioids without first conducting evaluations with utmost prudence is directly responsible for the opioid crisis Michigan families face,” said Schuette. “In this case, the doctor wasn’t just overprescribing, but prescribing the most deadly trio of drugs out there. If we want a brighter tomorrow, we must do everything in our power to find, stop, and prevent bad doctors from handing out drugs that ruin and end lives. We owe that to Michigan’s future, and I am proud of the dedication of my Opioid Trafficking and Interdiction Unit to that mission.”
The following charges have been brought against the two individuals:
Dr. Mohammad Derani, 67 of West Bloomfield:
Zahra Alwajed, 28 of Detroit:
The defendants, Derani and Alwajed, were arraigned Friday, August 18, 2017 before Judge Gene Hunt in the Dearborn District Court. Derani’s bond was set at $250,000 cash. If bond is met, Derani will be required to wear a GPS tether, surrender his passport, and will be prohibited from traveling outside the state, practicing medicine and possessing a firearm. Alwajed’s bond was set at $25,000 cash with the same bond conditions.
A probable cause conference for both defendants is set for September 1, 2017.
An investigation began in July 2017 after a Michigan State Police narcotics team received an anonymous tip indicating that a doctor was prescribing controlled substances for illegitimate purposes at the Dearborn Medical Clinic. It is alleged that 91% of the medications prescribed by Dr. Derani have a high potential for abuse.
The investigation revealed that Alwajed acted as a go-between from the patients to the doctor. It is alleged that she coached patients on what symptoms to present to the doctor and what drugs they could most likely get.
Further investigation also revealed allegations that Derani does not always use the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS), and that prescriptions were written after minimal patient exams.
It is also alleged that over the course of a year Dr. Derani allegedly prescribed 55 of his patients what pharmacists and health care professionals term, “The Holy Trinity.” This is used to describe a drug regime that includes at least one opioid, a benzodiazepine, and a carisoprodol; a combination of these drugs produces an extremely powerful reaction and often leads to overdoses, serious injuries, or death.
Part of Schuette’s Criminal Division, the Opioid Trafficking and Interdiction Unit is comprised of four Assistant Attorneys General, each with extensive backgrounds in drug crime prosecution. The Unit focuses on cases that cross both state and county lines, involve multiple major actors, and high volumes of heroin and other opioid-based drugs.
The Unit has already taken on 48 cases, with six individuals already convicted and 17 currently facing charges. The cases have been and will continue to be charged in cooperation with local law enforcement, Michigan State Police narcotics teams and federal agencies. The Unit will also take on felony murder cases in which it is alleged that the delivery of opioids has caused death.