Competency exam ordered for doctor in opioid case

Photo by Zeinab Najm  Dr. Mohammad Derani (left), attorney Muneeb Ahmad and defense attorney Steve Haney appear in front of 19th District Court Judge Mark Somers for Derani’s probable cause conference on Sept. 8.

Photo by Zeinab Najm
Dr. Mohammad Derani (left), attorney Muneeb Ahmad and defense attorney Steve Haney appear in front of 19th District Court Judge Mark Somers for Derani’s probable cause conference on Sept. 8.

 

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Health competency and criminal responsibility exams have been ordered for Dr. Mohammad Derani, 67, by 19th District Court Judge Mark Somers during a probable cause hearing on Sept. 8.

Somers requested the competency exam after Derani’s defense attorney, Steve Haney, said the doctor was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. Haney also said doctors who examined Derani said he is not mentally competent to stand trial.

Derani appeared in court where he answered standard yes or no questions from Somers before the exams were granted.

A competency hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 27 in 19th District Court.

Derani’s office assistant, Zahra Alwajed, 20, also was in court for her probable cause hearing where her attorney, Samuel Bennett, requested time to review video and audio interviews.

Bennett said he needed time to review the video and audio in order to have a discussion with Alwajed and State Assistant Attorney General Daniel Magee.

A preliminary examination of the evidence against Alwajed was set for 1 p.m. Oct. 13 in 19th District Court.

The initial probable cause hearing for Derani and Alwajed was adjourned after the doctor was unable to appear in court because he was hospitalized.

During the originally scheduled probable cause hearing in front of Somers on Sept. 1, Haney, said the doctor was taken to the hospital on Aug. 31 following a breakdown.

Haney said Derani underwent neurological testing at Henry Ford Hospital-West Bloomfield on Sept. 1 following the breakdown and will receive treatment at Beaumont Hospital-Farmington Hills.

Derani did not appear in court and underwent medical examination on Sept. 1 which determined he could not make medical or financial decisions for himself and that he is a harm to himself and others.

Somers said the mental health petition raises eyebrows because it was filed on Aug. 31 but was not shown as filed in the Oakland County court system and did not show hospitalization was voluntary or involuntary.

The clinical certification, however, was completed by doctors on the morning of Sept. 1 at Henry Ford Hospital.

Derani and Alwajed were charged with over-prescribing opioids to patients at the Dearborn Medical Clinic, 15401 W. Warren Ave.

At the arraignment Aug. 18 in front of 19th District Court Judge Gene Hunt, Derani, 67, was charged with four counts of delivery of a controlled substance and placed under a $250,000 bond. Derani’s full bond was posted.

Prosecutors believe Derani is a flight risk because of his recent travel to Syria and Turkey along with his plans to travel to Saudi Arabia.

He will have to wear a GPS tether and cannot travel outside the state of Michigan.

Alwajed was charged with four counts of aiding and abetting in the delivery of controlled substances and held on a $25,000 bond. She, too, will have to wear a GPS tether if bond is posted and she cannot travel outside Michigan.

When asked if she had a passport Alwajed said that she had lost it and because she did not have a history of traveling she was not considered a flight risk. Hunt told her not to apply for a new passport.

Alwajed was charged as a habitual offender because she was convicted in May of attempting to commit a felony.

Michigan State Police conducted the raid the morning of Aug. 17 at Dearborn Medical Clinic, where Derani allegedly over-prescribed opioids to patients including adderall, hydrocodone and oxycodone.

About eight law enforcement vehicles were on the scene just after 9 a.m. to execute a search warrant after a 45-day investigation was completed.

Officers blocked the entrance to the building and blocked Warren Avenue from the clinic to Greenfield Road delaying drivers.

MSP then completed a raid at Derani’s house in West Bloomfield.

MSP Lt. Michael Shaw said people would line up in the middle of the night for the clinic that opened at 7 a.m. causing a disturbance to the neighborhood.

An investigation determined that since January the doctor at the clinic allegedly prescribed 500,000 opioid pills which would end up on the streets.

Information came from the community who told Dearborn police that several patients would stand in line for hours at the clinic waiting to see the doctor.

Following the raid, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs suspended Derani’s medical license.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)