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Doctor’s Prison Term for ‘Drug Mill’ Upheld

The five-year prison sentence of a Los Angeles physician for illegally dispensing drugs 60 times was upheld Monday by a federal appeals court in San Francisco.

In December, 1987, a federal jury convicted Mesfin Seyoum of illegally distributing drugs to five people by writing prescriptions outside the usual course of medical practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. The drugs included a form of heroin, the court said. Seyoum ran a “drug mill,” said Joyce Karlin, the former assistant U.S. attorney in the case and now a Los Angeles Superior Court judge. Seyoum’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.

The court said there was evidence to support the jury’s conclusion that all five patients were given prescriptions for drugs without a legitimate reason and with inadequate or no medical examinations. It also upheld the trial judge’s instruction to jurors that they could infer consciousness of guilt from the fact that Seyoum flew to London 10 days after he was indicted in October, 1986, and stayed there until he flew to Washington in July, 1987, and was arrested.


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