Pain management doctor Fathalla Mashali had his fair share of clientele. The waiting rooms of his four offices in Massachusetts and Rhode Island were often packed full with patients being forced to sit on the floor, up against walls, wherever they could find space. Some days, he would see more than 100 patients seeking pain killers, and yet, it turns out, only five percent of his clients actually needed them for diagnosed medical conditions. Mashali was filling his offices by giving this visitors “the good stuff”, usually for no apparent reason. The doctor was found to be running what investigators refer to as a “pill mill”.
Federal prosecutors discovered Mashali to be prescribing oxycodone and other opioid painkillers to patients who are known addicts. Investigators discovered that at one point, the doctor, prescribed more oxycodone in one month than some of the state of Massachussetts’ biggest hospitals, passing out 1,100 prescriptions.
Egypt native Mashali, 62, received his medical degree from Cairo University, packing his bags and moving to the United states over 30 years ago. After gaining citizenship, Mashali married, fathered four children and served in the Army’s reserve. The physician was charged and pleaded guilty to serious crimes — 44 counts of health care fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering. His sentencing is scheduled for June 21, and the doctor could be looking at 12 to 15 years in prison. He offered an apology to the court, specifically addressing his patients and their families. “I’m very sorry. I hurt my family. I hurt my patients,” Mashali said.
In 2008, Mashali filed for bankruptcy, claiming $12 million in debts. He quickly found an easy way to recoup his losses and continue supporting a lavish lifestyle by starting his pill mill. After emerging from bankruptcy, Mashali and his wife purchased a $2.2 million Dover home, one of the wealthiest places to live in the state. They almost immediately made $2 million in home improvements. Prosecutors state, “The evidence will show that Mashali’s lust for exuberant wealth and luxury severely compromised the care and safety of his vulnerable patients.”
In 2012, Mashali’s deceitful business practices began to surface after one of his former employees reported the doctor’s tendency to prescribe large doses of drugs to addiction-suffering clients and submitted false charges for tests never run. Dr. Mashali’s license was revoked in 2013 by the Rhode Island Board of Medicine, who found he had offered “substandard care” to six of his patients who passed away. There was ultimately seven patients who met their demise under Mashali’s care. The doctor voluntarily gave up his Massachussetts license amid the controversy, and he attempted to flee back to his home country, but was arrested while boarding a plane with a one way ticket to Egypt.
Mashali’s attorneys claim the doctor suffers from bipolar disorder and neurosarcoidosis, which affects the central nervous system. The disorder can lead to confusion or dementia. He also suffers from anxiety and depression and currently takes more than 20 medications. “As the sentencing hearing will show, he is a deeply troubled individual whose underlying psychopathology in large part contributed to the offense conduct,” Mashali’s attorney, Jeffrey Denner, said after the hearing. In other words, instituting a pill mill is a result of his underlying health issues.