Mohamad Och, a former island psychiatrist, has been convicted by a federal jury of three counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance following an 11-day trial. The conviction came Friday afternoon, and Och’s sentencing has been scheduled for Feb. 16, 2024.
“Handing out controlled substances as casually as Halloween candy is a clear-cut crime, in which Dr. Och abrogated his professional ethics,” Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division, said. “Going forward, this experienced psychiatrist will have plenty of time to analyze his incredibly poor decisions that led to today’s conviction. The FBI, meanwhile, will continue to pursue investigations involving psychiatrists like Dr. Och.”
Och was a visiting psychiatrist at Nantucket Cottage Hospital for years, seeing island patients at the Prospect Street campus as a member of its medical staff.
The charge of illegal prescription of a Schedule II controlled substance provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $1 million. The charge of illegal prescription of a Schedule IV controlled substance provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $1 million. Och’s sentencing will be imposed by a federal district court judge.
Och, 67, was arrested and charged in July of 2021. According to Acting United States Attorney Joshua D. Levy, the psychiatrist “deliberately and recklessly jeopardized patient safety by repeatedly prescribing dangerous combinations of benzodiazepines and stimulants.”
Och was a licensed psychiatrist who owned and operated Island Counseling Center (ICC), in Worcester, Mass., but has practiced psychiatry elsewhere in Massachusetts, including Nantucket.
According to the United States Attorney’s Office District of Massachusetts, Och repeatedly prescribed a combination of benzodiazepines and stimulants outside of the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
They said that Och did so in particularly on multiple occasions between August 2016 and February 2017 when Och knowingly issued prescriptions for Adderall (a Schedule II amphetamine) and Xanax (a Schedule IV benzodiazepine) to undercover agents working for the DEA.
Evidence at Och’s trial showed that amphetamines have a high potential for abuse and present serious cardiovascular risks. Evidence also showed the risks presented by mixing Xanax, a depressant, with a stimulant like Adderall.
The office continued in their release saying that evidence at trial also established that the defendant prescribed such highly addictive medications without doing proper psychiatric examinations, without obtaining prior medical records, and without administering diagnostic tests (including urinalyses or blood tests) – even when faced with facts that the undercover patients may have been participating in drug diversion.
“Furthermore, the defendant did not discuss or review medication side effects, their conditions’ symptoms, or the risks and benefits of taking drugs like Adderall and Xanax with the undercover agents – despite documenting in medical records that he had done so,” the attorney’s office said.