Prosecution gets wins as former Daphne doctor’s trial starts

Dr. Rassan Tarabein.
Dr. Rassan Tarabein.(FOX10 News)
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 11:11 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The trial of a former Daphne doctor accused of failing to pay court-ordered restitution kicked off Monday with jury selection and a string of pre-trial rulings in the prosecution’s favor.

Rassan Tarabein stands accused of failing to make restitution payments ordered after he pleaded guilty in 2017 to health care fraud.

Chief U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Beaverstock refused to dismiss one of the charges, declined to separate a pair of counts from the rest of the indictment and agreed with prosecutors on a pair of issues related to the evidence that can be presented.

Law enforcement authorities detained Tarabein as he was about to board a plane for Syria earlier this year. Last week, Beaverstock ruled that prosecutors

of a counterfeit business check in Tarabein’s name that officers found in a suitcase he had checked at Pensacola International Airport.

Tarabein’s lawyer argued that a bank fraud charge should be dismissed because the indictment does not allege any of the essential facts that constitute that offense. The judge agreed with prosecutors that the count tracked the language of the statute.

“Count Five does include specific dates and alleges every element needed to fairly apprise Mr. Tarabein of the charge against him,” he wrote.

Beaberstock also declined to break off bank fraud and aggravated identity theft charges from the rest of the indictment. Tarabein’s attorney agued there those counts should be tried separately because there is “linkage between all of the counts and that he would suffer “compelling prejudice if all five counts are tried together” and that jurors will not be able to distinguish the evidence applying to each count.

Beaverstock wrote that he would instruct the jury to consider each crime and the evidence separately.

“The Court does not find any unfair prejudice outweighing ‘the interests of judicial economy’ and the federal courts’ preference for joined trials,” he wrote.

The judge also ruled in favor of the prosecution on two issues related to the evidence. He ruled prosecutors can present evidence of Tarabein’s prior bank fraud conviction. Ordinarily, prosecutors are prohibited from presenting evidence of prior bad acts by a defendant, but in this case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office argued the facts of that are “inextricably intertwined with the offenses charged Tarabein’s indictment in this case.”

The judge also ordered the defense not to make arguments challenging the appropriateness of the $11 million restitution from the health care fraud case.

Testimony begins Tuesday at noon.

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