Richland business owner sentenced to more than 28 years for falsifying human clinical research trials
RICHLAND, Wash. - Sami Anwar, age 41, of Richland, Washington, was sentenced today by Senior District Judge Edward F. Shea to a 340-month term of imprisonment for falsifying human clinical research trials in connection with a fraud scheme directed by Mr. Anwar.
After a three-week jury trial in Richland in November 2019 before Judge Shea, a federal jury found Mr. Anwar guilty of 47 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy, fraudulently obtaining controlled substances, and furnishing false material information to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
According to court documents and evidence presented during the trial and at sentencing, between 2013 and 2018 Sami Anwar directed and carried out a conspiracy to have his companies fraudulently pose as legitimate human clinical research trial sites and provide of false clinical research trial data regarding drug safety and drug efficacy to dozens of drug companies and, through them, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The false clinical research data that Sami Anwar injected into the public health system included safety data on dozens of different drugs and medicines designed to treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions including, but not limited to, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, pediatric illnesses, adolescent smoking, cirrhosis, scabies, depression, and opioid addiction to name just a few, according the evidence presented at trial. The evidence at trial indicated that Sami Anwar and his companies received over $5.6 million dollars from the fraud.
United States Attorney Hyslop said, "Every day, Americans rely on the data from clinical research trials to keep us safe from deadly diseases and dangerous side effects. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the vital ongoing clinical trials currently being conducted with regard to therapeutic treatments and vaccines, remind us every day how critical clinical research trials are and how important it is that that they be conducted honestly and reliably. Injecting fraudulent and corrupt data into the system is an egregious breach of the trust and faith that we all place in those who perform these vitally important trials." Hyslop continued, "Based on the evidence presented at sentencing, and the jury’s unanimous verdict at trial, Mr. Anwar profited from his blatant disregard for patient safety by running his fraudulent enterprise through fear and intimidation."
According to court documents and the evidence presented at trial and at sentencing, Sami Anwar, who is not a licensed medical doctor, would pose as a doctor and forge the signatures of the doctors he employed. In addition, over a dozen former employees of Sami Anwar testified that he directly instructed them to assist him in committing the fraud including falsifying medical records and data to admit dozens of ineligible research subjects; falsifying research data including electrocardiograms and vital signs, obtaining blood specimens from Sami Anwar’s employees or stealing them from unwitting medical patients of his medical center, disposing of study medications by shooting them down the drain and then falsely recording them as having been properly injected as required, dangerously hoarding opioids intended to be dispensed to study subjects, and fabricating required subject diary entries.
According to the evidence presented at trial and at sentencing, Sami Anwar not only directed the fraud but engaged in threats, retaliation, and intimidation in order to hide his crimes from drug companies, the FDA, which regulates human clinical trials in the United States, and law enforcement. According to evidence presented at trial and at sentencing, numerous former employees of Sami Anwar testified that Anwar filed false police reports, made false allegations to the Washington State Department of Health, the FDA, threatened them at their homes, at their places of work, slashed their tires, and stalked them in order to prevent them from cooperating with the authorities.
In sentencing Mr. Anwar above the recommended sentencing guideline range, Judge Shea remarked that "the extent of the fraud is astounding" and noted that Mr. Anwar’s conduct "endangered countless lives." Judge Shea further stated that Mr. Anwar’s "greed knew no limit" and that he was "a vengeful human being who sought to punish anyone who threatened [his] scheme."
Mr. Anwar and his companies were also ordered to pay $1,890,550.10 in restitution to the victims of the fraud, to forfeit $5,648,786.69 as proceeds of the fraud, and to pay special penalty assessments of $24,300. Mr. Anwar was also sentenced to three years of supervised release following completion of his custodial sentence, with special conditions to protect his victims and former employees.
Mr. Hyslop further stated "I wish to especially commend the excellent work done by the investigative personnel with the Seattle and Spokane resident offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Diversion Group. Their exceptional investigative work made this result possible. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who continue to abuse this trust and undermine our health care system are brought to justice."
"Justifiably, Sami Anwar will be sitting behind bars for a very long time, thinking about his despicable actions that betrayed the American public and all the healthcare heroes who conduct lifesaving clinical trials every day," stated Acting Special Agent in Charge Cam Strahm. "I commend the hard work of the DEA Diversion Investigators who stopped Anwar from further injecting fraudulent data into the public health system. This investigative action in Eastern Washington is part of a strategy in addressing illicit opioid access and diversion, currently endangering our communities."
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Diversion Group’s Seattle Field Division and Spokane District Office. The case was prosecuted by Dan Fruchter, Tyler H.L. Tornabene, and Brian Donovan, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington. The case caption is No. 4:18-cr-5064-EFS (E.D. Wash.).