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Parto Karimi, a former Bay Area doctor, has been sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for distributing powerful opioids outside the scope of medical practice, announced United States Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), San Francisco Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Brian M. Clark.

The sentence was handed down on March 15, 2024, by the Hon. Jon S. Tigar, United States District Judge.

Karimi, 59, of Alamo, California, pleaded guilty in July 2023 to one count of distributing hydrocodone, a Schedule II controlled substance, outside the scope of professional practice, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C).

According to the government’s sentencing memorandum, Karimi practiced medicine from an accessory dwelling unit on the grounds of her suburban home from roughly 2011 to 2022. Her practice operated under the name “Mindful Medicine.” Karimi was a licensed practitioner of internal medicine who had previously worked as an emergency room doctor at an East Bay hospital and was authorized to prescribe controlled substances as part of her medical practice.

According to the government’s sentencing memorandum, the DEA began investigating Karimi after receiving concerning information from the family of one of Karimi’s former patients, who had passed away. The investigation included multiple visits by undercover agents to Karimi’s medical practice.

During one, on October 1, 2021, an undercover agent asked Karimi for 10mg Norco tablets based on a claim of leg pain resulting from work as a restaurant server. Karimi admitted in her plea agreement that she wrote the undercover agent a prescription for 60 high-dose Norco pills without conducting a physical examination, without asking follow-up questions about the undercover’s reported pain, without obtaining medical records, and without exploring alternative treatment options or trying a lower dose.

Karimi admitted that, in doing so, she knew she was acting in an unauthorized manner by prescribing a controlled substance outside the usual course of medical practice. She also admitted she knew the drug she prescribed was a powerful opioid that can be highly addictive and is liable to abuse by patients.

The government argued in its papers that Karimi wrote medical prescriptions for opioids like Norco in exchange for street drugs including cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as cash payments.

In addition to sentencing Karimi to prison, Judge Tigar ordered the defendant to serve three years of supervised release to begin after her prison term is completed. Judge Tigar also ordered the defendant to forfeit her California medical license and to pay a $4,000 fine.

Assistant United States Attorney Daniel Pastor is prosecuting the case with assistance from Laurie Worthen. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by DEA, with assistance from the United States Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General and the California Department of Justice Division of Medical Fraud and Elder Abuse.