CINCINNATI – While Dr. Atiq Durrani’s attorney prepares to go to trial without him, agents from six federal law enforcement services are trying to find the indicted Mason spine surgeon after he fled the country, a U.S. Attorney’s spokesperson said Wednesday.
The FBI, the U.S. Marshal and even Homeland Security are involved in the manhunt, Fred Alverson said from Columbus.
“There are probably half a dozen federal law enforcement services trying to locate Dr. Durrani,” Alverson said. “A search like this often relies on public information and tracking movements through a database.”
Durrani apparently fled to his native Pakistan through Mexico and Brazil.
Alverson said he didn’t know if the U.S. would ask Pakistan to help locate him and return him to stand trial.
“I really don’t know what our relationship with Pakistani law enforcement is,” Alverson said. “Whatever it is, Washington would have to be involved.”
Nobody knows how Durrani got to Pakistan without a passport. A federal judge released Durrani after his indictment last summer on the condition that Durrani turn over his passport and not travel beyond Ohio and Kentucky.
Durrani asked the judge to let him go to Pakistan to see his ailing father, but the judge refused.
If he wasn’t a flight risk then, that apparently changed after the state medical boards in Ohio and Kentucky suspended his license in November.
He couldn’t work then and most of his assets were frozen last summer.
When Durrani fled, he left his ex-wife and two teenage children behind and his attorneys, Michael Lyon and Glenn Whitaker, to defend him.
Durrani faces a 36-count federal fraud indictment and more than 160 civil suits from patients. Both claim Durrani performed unnecessary surgeries.
RELATED: Read the indictment.
Durrani charged public and private insurers millions of dollars for fraudulent services, the indictment says. Many of Durrani’s patients said their conditions worsened after needless surgery.
Lyon, Durrani’s civil attorney, said he was prepared to go to trial in the first case on Jan. 6 and did not intend to ask for a continuance.
Durrani was deposed on Nov. 29, and Judge Ethna Cooper said she would try him in absentia.
“I’m preparing to try each case as it comes up, but it’s really, really difficult to know what’s going to happen going forward,” Lyon said.
Trials have already been scheduled into 2015 with 14 judges assigned to cases.
In a motion Tuesday, Lyon asked Cooper to prohibit the patient’s attorney, Eric Deters, from mentioning that Ohio and Kentucky suspended Durrani’s licenses in November.
Lyon argued that the plaintiff’s surgery took place in January 2009, and the suspensions “had nothing to do with (her) care almost five years earlier.”
Durrani’s criminal case is set for Aug. 18.
Durrani professed his innocence in an exclusive interview with WCPO's Tom McKee last August.
WATCH Durrani's entire interview here.
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