Texas doctor sentenced in prescription drug conspiracy

SHERMAN — A Dallas physician has been sentenced to federal prison for conspiracy to sell illegal prescriptions in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston on Thursday.

Habiboola Niamatali, 75, of Dallas, was found guilty by a jury in July 2016 of conspiracy to distribute Hydrocodone, Alprazolam, and Promethazine with Codeine outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. Niamatali was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone. Niamatali was also ordered to pay a $50,000 fine.

According to information presented in court, Niamatali used his medical clinics in Garland and Lancaster to sell illegal prescriptions for cash. The defendant attempted to cover up his scheme by ordering his staff to falsify medical records. Niamatali was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 10, 2013.

Before the trial, the staff members who falsified the records, Esmeralda Lozada and Lisa Tumlinson, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and were sentenced respectively to 16 months and 10 months in prison. Additionally, the physician's wife, Shirley Niamatali, admitted that she knew about the conspiracy, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony, was sentenced to 3 years of probation, and fined $20,000.

"'Do no Harm,' the Hippocratic Oath adhered to by all but a few physicians, remains as sacred today as it was centuries ago," said Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston. "Dr. Niamatali chose to violate the oath, and his duty as a physician, by choosing to harm others by prescribing unwarranted drugs."

The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration – Dallas Tactical Diversion Squad, DeSoto Police Department, and Ellis County Sheriff's Office.