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Looking back: A jury this year convicted a Casper doctor of running a pill mill. He's now serving a quarter-century
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A LOOK BACK AT 2019

Looking back: A jury this year convicted a Casper doctor of running a pill mill. He's now serving a quarter-century

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A Wyoming jury this year convicted a doctor of using his Casper office to run a drug ring and causing the overdose death of an Arizona woman.

Dr. Shakeel Kahn is now serving a quarter-century federal prison sentence. His brother, Nabeel, whom jurors also convicted of two felonies, is serving 15 years of imprisonment.

The law enforcement investigation was expansive, totaling about 21,000 hours, according to prosecutors. That number does not include work by prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office or the Natrona County District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted a related set of drug cases. Federal prosecutors used more than 10,000 pieces of evidence in the case and called more than 30 witnesses during the doctor’s month-long trial in Casper’s federal courthouse.

Among them was the doctor’s wife, who, on the eve of trial, took a deal and pleaded guilty to a single drug conspiracy charge. Lyn Kahn told jurors that the doctor wrote prescriptions for her daughter but then gave them to his brother and directed her to mail painkillers to a Massachusetts man.

The agreement she struck with prosecutors ultimately allowed her to avoid prison: Johnson ordered her to instead serve three years of supervised release.

Prosecutors ultimately presented a paper trail demonstrating Shakeel Kahn wrote nearly 15,000 prescriptions that totaled roughly 2.2 million controlled pills. Nearly half of those contained the potent opioid painkiller oxycodone, which has a chemical structure closely related to heroin. The case demonstrated the business operated across Wyoming, and it distributed to states as far-flung as Arizona, Oregon and Massachusetts.

In August, a federal judge sentenced the 53-year-old doctor to 25 years imprisonment, which is the minimum sentence prescribed by federal sentencing guidelines. For the two most serious convictions — conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances resulting in death and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise — guidelines directed Judge Alan Johnson to sentence Kahn to at least 20 years. The judge did so, and by running all counts at the same time save for a five-year gun crime sentence, Johnson ordered the 25-year term.

Johnson earlier the same day ordered the doctor’s brother, Nabeel Kahn, 46, to serve just over 15 years in federal prison. The younger brother, whose lawyers argued should serve less time because of medical issues, is incarcerated in a prison medical center in Minnesota. Shakeel Kahn is serving his time in a federal prison near Los Angeles.

The doctor’s lawyer told the Star-Tribune shortly after the conviction and again after sentencing that he intended to appeal issues at the case, which he said would be more appropriately handled as a medical malpractice lawsuit. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court, however, still awaits his appeal: although Kahn has formally notified the appellate court that he will contest the trial court’s findings, his filings aren’t due until Jan. 22.

Proceedings are also still ongoing in the U.S. District Court where the doctor was convicted.

The doctor’s father, Mohamed Abdur Rahim Khan, has asked a judge to award him some of the money law enforcement seized from an Arizona house during the investigation. Khan says that of the more than $1 million cash police seized while arrested the doctor, $675,000 was not the doctor’s but his, and was stored in Arizona for safe keeping. The father’s challenge has not yet been tried by the judge.

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Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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