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Judge rebuffs prosecution request to revoke convicted Baldwin doctor’s supervised release

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 5:53 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - It did not take a judge long to reject an effort by federal prosecutors to revoke the supervised release of a Baldwin County doctor convicted of health care fraud.

Prosecutors sought the revocation based on allegations Rassan Tarabein lied about his finances to avoid paying restitution after his 2017 conviction. But U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose ruled that she already had considered those allegations in March after prosecutors asked her to re-sentence the defendant. She denied that request but did extend Tarabein’s supervised release term for another year.

“The petition is premised on the same facts and evidence that this Court has already considered,” she wrote in a terse, one-page order. “Accordingly, the petition is DISMISSED.”

Tarabein is not the clear just yet, though. Prosecutors obtained an indictment making the same allegations, so he will have to face charges of bank fraud, making false statements and identify theft.

Prosecutors contend that Tarabein was lying when he wrote an email to his probation officer casing, “I’m broke” to explain why he could not afford to make the restitution payments as part of the health care fraud case.

Prosecutors note that when DuBose earlier this year agreed to let Tarabein go to his native Syria as long as he prepaid a year’s worth of restitution, he gave the court clerk a check for $103,000 the very next day. That, prosecutors say, shows he was lying when he said he was broke.

Defense attorney Dennis Knizley told FOX10 News that the judge acted appropriately.

“The judge did the only thing she could do, the only thing reasonable to do,” Knizley said. “She’s already heard these issues, and she summarily dismissed it.”

Federal law enforcement authorities arrested Tarabein on the new charges as he was waiting in Pensacola to catch a flight to Syria.

“His mother is in Syria,” he said. “He’s from Syria. His mother was ailing. And he made that request. … And they arrested him on all that, and he was unable to go see his ailing mother. He may not ever be able to do so.”

Tarabein pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the new charges. The bank fraud charge relates to allegations that Tarabein wrote a check on an account that federal agents had seized during the health care fraud investigation.

Knizley called that a mistake. He also defended his client’s assertion that he was broke. He said Tarabein surrendered $6 million but still owes about $9 million from the restitution order exceeding $15 million.

“You’re squeezing blood out of a turnip, and there’s no more blood to squeeze. … You already got every penny he got,” he said. “You got $6 million. You go everything the man’s got.”

Knizley said he cannot recall another case in which prosecutors asked for a redo on sentencing.

“To continue to use public resources or what appears to be something other than just your normal motivation. prosecuting someone seems to be a little remiss,” he said.

Tarabein has a tentative trial date in July. Until then, although he had to surrender his passport, he will be allowed to continue living in his Fairhope apartment.

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