Casper Prescription Drug Conspiracy Trial Set For April
The defendants in the federal multi-state prescription drug conspiracy allegedly orchestrated by a former Casper doctor will go to trial in late April, according to federal court records filed Friday.
Dr. Shakeel Kahn, his wife Lyn (Voss) Kahn, his brother Nabeel "Sonny" Kahn (sometimes spelled Khan), and Arizona resident Shawwna Thacker will be tried on charges nearly two-and-a-half years after Shakeel and Lyn Kahn were arrested in Casper on Nov. 30, 2016.
U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson set the trial date for April 29, 2019, during a status conference on Friday that listed deadlines for motions and responses, expert witness designations, and other legal matters.
The status conference and trial date announcement comes after more than a year of motions and appeals in Wyoming federal court and the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Most legal actions were about whether Shakeel Kahn could use money -- funds not allegedly related to his illegal prescription drug trade -- seized during law enforcement actions to hire his own defense attorneys.
The courts ruled in Kahn's favor. Johnson held an "in camera" review -- a private court hearing with the judge and certain other people -- after the status conference about the disbursement of those funds.
The third superseding indictment charges some or all defendants with conspiracy to distribute, possessing and dispensing oxycodone and other prescription opioids; conspiracy to distribute certain prescription drugs resulting in death; possession or use of firearms during a drug crime; unlawful use of communications devices; and money laundering.
Shakeel Kahn also is charged with operating a continuing criminal enterprise, which upon conviction is punishable by a minimum of 20 years of imprisonment.
Thacker is charged with a sole count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and other drugs resulting in death, according to the third superseding indictment.
A fifth co-defendant, Paul Beland, pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to dispense and distribute oxycodone, alprazolam (Xanax), hydromorphone and carisoprodol resulting in death; and two counts of unlawful use of a communication facility. Beland will be sentenced after the trial of the other defendants.
The complex case began more than two years ago when the Wyoming State Board of Pharmacy asked the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate Shakeel Kahn, who was issuing large prescriptions for controlled substances under two DEA licenses in Arizona and Wyoming. The Arizona and Wyoming boards of medicine subsequently suspended Kahn's medical licenses for prescribing controlled substances outside the standard of care.
Shakeel and Lyn Kahn were arrested at their house on Thorndike Avenue in Casper on Nov. 30, 2016, and initially charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.
Shakeel and Lyn Kahn dealt with customers who paid them $500 in cash for a prescription. Medical evaluations were usually minimal if not nonexistent. Customers often would resell the drugs. Some of the transactions occurred at the now-closed Vape World shop on 12th Street operated by Kahn's stepchildren.
Meanwhile, The Natrona County District Attorney's Office charged 15 people with conspiracy to deliver a Schedule II controlled substance (oxycodone and oxycontin); conspiracy to deliver a Schedule IV controlled substance alprazolam; and two counts of conspiracy to deliver heroin. Many of the defendants obtained prescriptions from Kahn.
Most of those cases have been resolved with defendants pleading guilty. Most of the defendants, many of whom had addiction issues, were sentenced to probation.