Sick Prisoner Claiming Inadequate Care Seeks Release

By Elizabeth Daley | July 7, 2023, 4:52 PM EDT ·

A man serving 18 years in prison after collecting more than $9 million from Medicare and Medicaid while banned for fraud urged a New Jersey federal judge to release him early, claiming the U.S. prison system can't manage his severe medical needs.

In an emergency motion for sentence reduction, Alison Brill, a public defender for Imadeldin Awad Khair, 63, told the judge her client was suffering from kidney failure, pneumonia, diabetes, heart and lung problems and is "almost entirely bed-ridden." She wrote on Thursday that Khair had been hospitalized for over one month, and she was only able to learn he was alive through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Brill said she and Khair's wife had both contacted the Federal Bureau of Prisons throughout June without response regarding his condition. Neither his attorney nor his wife has been able to regularly communicate with him, according to the motion.

"Although Mr. Khair is in a community hospital, he remains a BOP inmate with no patient rights beyond what the prison provides," Brill wrote. "Those rights are miserable: a prisoner only has a right to family contact when it is determined that he is near death. Mr. Khair finally spoke to his wife 29 days after surgery on his kidney, and, without counsel's intervention, there is no telling if and when the family or any outside representative would have had contact."

Though visitation rights and calls are allowed to inmates in federal prisons, visiting hospitalized patients must be approved by prison health officials in consultation with the prison officers, according to program guidelines. The motion said communicating with Khair was difficult, because in addition to certain required approvals, the prison had to supply him with a monitored phone in the hospital.

In her motion, Brill blames the prison system for what she says is Khair's poor health care. He was diagnosed with renal cancer in 2017, and has been subjected to "delays in treatment and consultation, mismanagement of medication, and disregard of medical recommendations by specialists," she wrote.

In 2018, Khair's cancerous right kidney was removed, and a growing tumor was discovered on his left kidney. With other health problems and in the midst of a global pandemic, Khair petitioned the court for a sentence reduction, but was denied in 2020, court records show.

Khair has now served 48% of his sentence and has new worsening medical conditions, according to his motion. His attorney has not been able to determine whether he is receiving adequate physical therapy and lack of family contact constitutes "additional punishment," she wrote.

"A substantial body of research has identified positive patient outcomes related to open visitation policies, including rapid recovery times and decreased length of stay," the motion said, asking that he be released to the care of his community. 

Finally, Khair's attorney said his poor health makes him extremely unlikely to commit any further crimes. He is tethered to a dialysis machine three days a week for hours at a time. His crimes were committed before he became ill, and his release would not embolden other would-be offenders, the motion said.

"As to general deterrence, there is no material risk of future criminality in a reduction based on the extraordinary event of a post-crime, terminal diagnosis," his attorney wrote.

Khair is scheduled to be released in February 2032, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons website.

He was sentenced in 2017 for collecting federal funds through his ambulance company, K&S Invalid Coach, despite being banned from participating in federal health programs after committing New Jersey health care fraud. At the same time, Khair was also sentenced for money laundering, tax evasion and obstructing a federal audit.

In addition to the prison time, Khair was ordered to pay $8.8 million in restitution, according to court records.

His attorney, Brill, declined to comment on the case, and representatives for the United States did not immediately respond to requests for comments Friday.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Marie Romano.

Khair is represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Alison Brill. 

The case is U.S. v. Khair, case number 2:15-cr-00404, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

--Editing by Nick Petruncio.

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