Three weeks ago a federal judge wasn't happy with the progress of an alleged pill mill case headed to trial in December. On Friday she got some good news.
Defense attorney Rich Heinsman is representing Dr. Ihsaan al-Amin, who faces charges that include health care fraud, money laundering and operating a criminal enterprise after his arrest last May.
Heinsman's legal staff was making glacial progress retrieving an estimated 500,000 digital records for 4,000 patients before the previous hearing.
At that same hearing, prosecutor John MacCoon told U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan K. Lee he thought that a technology liaison was handling the exchange of information.
Lee wasn't pleased that after nearly a year Heinsman didn't have evidence he needed for the pending trial in the "extended and complex case" and worried that it could delay the trial date.
But Internal Revenue Service agents have moved the evidence to the downtown FBI office so Heinsman has access 40 hours a week. He estimated that before the move his assistant had about seven hours weekly to copy the necessary information.
As of early this month, Heinsman's staff had gotten through only two-thirds of 400 records, a 10 percent sample of the total evidence seized, he said.
With the new arrangement and technological assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office staff, he said the work will go much more quickly.
The volume of information Heinsman has to gather and then have hired experts cull through makes the case more difficult than a typical criminal defense, he said.
"It makes it hard on anybody," Heinsman said.
Federal agents raided al-Amin's 4719 Brainerd Road pain management clinic and seized paper records and computers last May. They charged him with federal crimes related to providing pain pills "not for legitimate medical purpose" and profit.
The trial is scheduled for Dec. 2, with a plea deal deadline of Oct. 28.
Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.