Wrongful-death lawsuit won’t go away

Sam Black

A federal jury acquitted Dr. John Najarian last February of 15 felony counts and a federal judge dismissed six others, including conspiracy to defraud the government in his handling of the organ-transplant drug ALG.
Today Najarian, former head of the Surgery Department, holds an unpaid clinical position at the University. He performs three or four operations a week and consults with patients regularly. Najarian said he also teaches medical students — mostly in the operating room.
Gov. Arne Carlson wrote a letter to the University’s Board of Regents in July calling on the University to make amends with Najarian by reinstating him as a tenured professor and paying his legal bills.
Regents Chairman Thomas Reagan rejected Carlson’s request. “The fact that Dr. Najarian was acquitted of criminal charges in federal court has no bearing on whether he is fit to serve as an academic member of the Medical School,” Reagan said.
Najarian was not the only administrator put on trial last year for the ALG program. Two others involved were convicted of wrongdoing in the controversy.
Richard Condie, the former director of the University’s ALG program, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to embezzlement and tax evasion and conspiring with Najarian to sell ALG illegally. The court sentenced Condie to pay a $50,000 fine, serve two years’ probation and perform 200 hours of community service. Condie is no longer employed by the University.
Bernard Ley, a former administrator in the surgery department, pleaded guilty to fraud and embezzlement. In July Ley was fined $5,000, put on probation for two years and ordered to do 100 hours of community service.
Najarian said he and his family are getting ready to fly to California this weekend where he will be honored at halftime of the football game between the University of California at Los Angeles and University of California at Berkeley. He will be receiving the Seaborg Award for chemistry. The honor is named after Glenn T. Seaborg, a Nobel prize-winning chemist who played a key role in the discovery of plutonium and other heavy elements.
There are still unresolved issues surrounding Najarian’s trial; unsettled court costs and expenses for which Najarian supposedly double-billed the University. “All parties are considering all of their options,” said John Lundquist, one of Najarian’s attorneys.
Najarian said he hopes to continue practicing surgery at the University.