Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration spent several hours raiding an Eastern Shore pain clinic last week — taking boxes of files and computer equipment from the office but making no arrests.
The subject of the raid was the Eastern Shore Neurology and Pain Center in Daphne, which is owned and operated by Dr. Rassan Tarabein. According to the center’s website, Tarabein has practiced medicine in Daphne since 1996.In the past few years, federal authorities have brought a number of high-profile criminal cases against local doctors accused of intentionally overprescribing narcotic pain medication, but so far there’s been no confirmation from the FBI or the DEA that Tarabein is suspected of that sort of activity.
In fact, as of Nov. 1, Tarabein had yet to be charged with any criminal offense at all, despite federal investigators conducting unannounced searches of his office and home Oct. 28.
A review of federal court filings in the Southern District of Alabama turned up no active cases against Tarabein, and a spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Kenyen Brown’s office was unable to comment on the context or intention of last Friday’s raids.
However, according to public records kept by the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, Tarabein has a history of prescribing excessive pain medication that led to a temporary suspension of his medical license after an administrative complaint was filed against him in 2004.
After a hearing process, Tarabein agreed to waive his right to an administrative hearing by admitting to several allegations of “immoral, unprofessional or dishonorable conduct” that included prescribing excessive narcotic medications like Lortab, Percocet, Percodan, OxyContin, Tylox and Demerol.
In one case, Tarabein was said to have prescribed addictive medications “without any attempt to discover the cause of [a] patient’s pain.” In another case, he admitted to prescribing 60 OxyContin and 120 Lortabs to one patient for a single month.
As a result, Tarabein’s medical license was suspended from 2004 until January 2007 and he was fined $40,000. In addition, Tarabein was ordered to complete continuing education courses on “Prescribing Controlled Drugs” and “Medical Ethics and Professionalism.”
According to a consent decree, Tarabein also agreed — at least temporarily — to issue any prescriptions for controlled substances “on pre-printed, sequentially numbered, duplicate prescription forms,” copies of which he’d keep on hand at his practice in Daphne.
Despite the turmoil with the Medical Licensure Commission of Alabama, Eastern Shore Neurology continued to operate and even boasted of a number of fairly recent professional accolades.
According to Tarabein’s website, MD News magazine published a cover story on his practice in 2007 — the year his suspended medical license was reinstated — that ran with the headline: “Making Waves in Pain Management and Patient Care, the Dr. Tarabein Way.”
Tarabein lists several other awards on his website, including a 2012 designation for “World Leading Physician” given by the International Association of Healthcare Professionals. However, some medical professionals have been critical of IAHP for giving awards to doctors who are no longer in practice and, in some cases, people who were never doctors at all.
While his business on the Eastern Shore has continued to operate, Tarabein has also seen some recent personal issues with local law enforcement in his current city of residence, Fairhope.
In 2012, Tarabein was convicted of criminal solicitation when he and a woman allegedly offered to pay men at a local bar to assault another resident of Fairhope. Tarabein was convicted of that charge in Fairhope’s municipal court but was later acquitted in an appeal to the Baldwin County Circuit Court.
Also in 2012, Steven Hazelwood — the same man who accused Tarabein of soliciting his assault — signed a warrant for Tarabein’s arrest on charges of harassment. Court records indicate Tarabein was also convicted of that charge, though a jury ultimately found him not guilty when the case was appealed.
Attorney John Beck, a criminal defense attorney based in Baldwin County, represented Tarabein in both of those cases. Beck was also present last Friday when Tarabein’s home was searched by federal authorities. However, attempts to reach Beck for comment for this report were not immediately successful.
In the meantime, Eastern Shore Neurology and Pain Center has already reopened its doors and is seeing patients once again.