OCDA vows to appeal dismissal of fraud case against Obama donor
Orange County prosecutors on Tuesday said they would appeal a ruling dismissing all charges for the three main defendants in a major insurance fraud case that also alleged involuntary manslaughter stemming from an infant’s death.
All charges of involuntary manslaughter and felony insurance fraud-related counts were dismissed Monday against Kareem Ahmed, Andrew Robert Jarminski and Michael Rudolph, according to court records.
The case was first filed in 2014 and has had several legal setbacks over the years, most recently in 2019 when Orange County Superior Court Judge Sheila Hanson ruled that prosecutors violated attorney-client privilege.
Since that ruling, the attorneys have been working through what evidence was not tainted and could still be used in the case.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday issued this statement:
“Yesterday, this case was set for preliminary hearing. We were prepared to move forward next week with that hearing. Unfortunately, (Hanson) denied our motion for reconsideration, which caused us to be unable to proceed at this time. We anticipated this ruling and we respectfully disagree with the court’s decision. We are appealing the ruling.”
Orange County prosecutors told the judge March 18 that Deputy District Attorney Shaddi Kamiabipour had been “walled off” from the case due to the attorney-client privilege violations and a new prosecution team was to take it over.
However, Kamiabipour filed the motion to reconsider a ruling from Feb. 8, 2019, claiming it and another ruling in February of this year that made it final left the new prosecutors unable to proceed because they lacked enough untainted evidence.
On Monday, Kamiabipour conceded the case against Ahmed, but argued that she should be able to use the evidence in her case against Jarminski and Rudolph.
Defense attorneys argued in a filing last week that Jarminski and Rudolph were part of a joint defense with Ahmed, so their due process and attorney-client privileges were also violated.
“The (prosecution’s) invasion encompassed not only communications between Mr. Ahmed and his counsel, but also memoranda providing advice on the precise issues that are at the heart of the case,” the attorneys argued in court papers.
“This analysis was shared and used by both defendants as part of a joint defense group. The joint defense group rightly expected that these privileged communications and work product were and would remain unknown and unseen by the prosecution.”
Ahmed’s attorney, Benjamin Gluck, told City News Service on Monday, “We’re grateful for the attention that Judge Hanson gave to the issue, and, obviously, we’re pleased with the outcome. Apart from the procedural errors in this case, on the underlying issues we contend Mr. Ahmed never did anything wrong.”
In 2019, Hanson found that Kamiabipour did not intend to invade the attorney-client privilege, but District Attorney Investigator Fred Nichols was recused.
The case has had multiple issues along the way.
In March 2016, the Fourth District Court of Appeal mostly dismantled an indictment against multiple physicians, pharmacists and other medical professionals involved in what prosecutors alleged was a kickback scheme.
The justices at that time did not comment on the merits of the case, but noted multiple technical errors.
Instead of returning to a grand jury to seek new indictments, prosecutors filed new cases instead. Because of that prosecutors do not have the opportunity to refile the fraud case anymore, Gluck said.
Ahmed, who was a major booster of then-President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, was accused of masterminding the scheme, which prosecutors said resulted in more than $200 million in losses.
Prosecutors accused Ahmed of orchestrating a scheme to create a pain-relief cream and offer kickbacks to physicians and chiropractors to dispense it while also defrauding insurance companies with workers’ compensation claims.
Priscilla Lujan, a patient prescribed the cream, sued Jarminski in Los Angeles County in 2013 alleging the cream came without standard warnings, which led her to expose the ointment to her 5-month-old son, who died after ingesting it while she used her fingers as a pacifier, Lujan’s attorney, Shawn McCann, said.