GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) – Two doctors accused of overprescribing painkillers that authorities say contributed to the deaths of four Colorado patients pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the charges against them.

Sam Jahani, 49, of Beaumont, Texas and Eric Peper, 53, of Summerland Key, Fla., entered their pleas in Grand Junction to a 70-count federal grand jury indictment that accuses them of falsifying medical records to make a profit and overprescribing painkillers to patients over a four-year period. The doctors’ painkiller prescriptions were a contributing factor to the deaths of four patients because the doses they prescribed were of such high strength, authorities said.

The doctors formerly operated Urgent Care clinics in Grand Junction, Delta and Montrose. The facilities closed after Drug Enforcement Administration officials raided the clinics in the fall of 2009.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports that the attorneys for Jahani and Peper each issued statements on behalf of their clients declaring their innocence.

“Dr. Peper was an hourly wage employee and had no reason to overprescribe his patients,” said Peper’s attorney, Tony Leffert.

The law firm representing Jahani, Peters, Mair and Wilcox said in a statement on the firm’s website that Jahani “is thankful to live in a country where such allegations must be proved in a full and fair trial to a jury of his peers.”

Jahani and Peper are free on bail. Their next court date has not been scheduled. Both face charges that include health care fraud, money laundering and dispensing controlled substances resulting in death.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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