Court continues PVH surgeon's felony jail term: Sahlolbei discloses stage 3 colon cancer diagnosis

On Jan. 10, pictured at the Riverside County Superior Court's Banning Justice Center in Banning, Calif., Palo Verde Hospital (PVH) surgeon Dr. Hossain Sahlolbei publicly disclosed to the court – per private criminal defense attorney Donald Marks – a December 2019 diagnosis of stage 3 colon cancer. (Photo by Uriel Avendano/Palo Verde Valley Times)

On Jan. 10, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jorge C. Hernandez pushed Palo Verde Hospital (PVH) surgeon Dr. Hossain Sahlolbei’s previously ordered 16-month sentence to county jail for an October 2016 felony grand theft conviction by granting a stipulated motion to continue the matter to March 10.

The stipulated continuance will push the mark to over 1,200 days since being found guilty by a jury in connection to an illegal non-publicly disclosed subcontract agreement for anesthesiologist services at the healthcare facility in 2009.

A previously conditioned and posted $200,000 bail to continue Sahlolbei’s surrender hearing remained, as ordered.

Sahlolbei’s ongoing series of surrender to commence sentencing hearings date back to previously set dates of Nov. 29, 2018, which was then continued to Feb. 22, 2019; re-scheduled again to May 24, 2019; pushed to Aug. 16, 2019; re-calendared for Nov. 4, 2019; moved to Jan. 10, 2020; and now scheduled for March 10, 2020.

On Jan. 10, at the Riverside County Superior Court’s Banning Justice Center in Banning, Calif., Sahlolbei was represented by private criminal defense attorney Donald Marks of Marks & Brooklier against the prosecuting Riverside County District Attorney Deputy District Attorney Emily Hanks.

During the hearing, Sahlolbei disclosed to the court, per Marks, a December 2019 diagnosis of stage 3 colon cancer.

Additionally, a second count related to the original case’s filing – alleging a violation of Government Code (GC) 1090, conflict of interest – remains outstanding through the judicial courts system.

As reported in the morning’s parallel trial readiness conference minutes, both parties remain “unsure at this time” on the GC 1090 matter, which was also pushed to be revisited along with a “medical update” on March 10.

As previously reported by the Times, at the May 24, 2019, hearing, Sahlolbei’s then-defense attorney of record – Kenneth P. White of Brown, White & Osborn LLP – originally motioned to withdraw as defense counsel.

Additionally, the defense made an oral motion requesting the court “unfreeze (assets)/funds” to assist with according fees, which was then granted.

On Aug. 16, 2019, White’s motion was formally considered, heard and approved.

Citing a “complete breakdown in the attorney-client relationship,” White’s filing stated Sahlolbei’s representation to be unreasonably difficult to effectively move forward with the case.

White had represented Sahlolbei since December 2013.

On Aug. 16, 2019, the court addressed Sahlolbei and advised him of his need to fill out a petition to proceed in propria persona – to act as his own attorney – which was motioned for and accordingly granted. At the same hearing of which, according to the morning’s minutes, Sahlolbei had originally stated a hope to find new counsel or sell property to pay for an attorney.

The case’s resentencing is in accordance to the California Court of Appeals, Fourth Appellate District (Division 2), February 2018 decision to grant prosecuting Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin’s petitioned writ of mandate – which challenged and subsequently led to the reversal of Sahlolbei’s originally imposed sentence of three years’ probation for the felony grand theft conviction (in excess of $500,000).

Sahlolbei challenged the grand theft conviction and moved to have an appeal heard on the case’s adjacent GC 1090 conflict of interest charge – the case’s described “unusually complex procedural history” of which has led to ongoing continuances through the California judicial system over the years.

On Sept. 11, 2019, a published ruling by California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District (Division 2), affirmed their previous Feb. 8, 2018, decision stating Sahlolbei was ineligible for probation.

The 47-page ruling states:

“(Sahlolbei) argues the prosecution failed to prove (he) committed the crime of theft by false pretenses because there was no theft of the Hospital’s money by false pretenses. The Hospital paid Dr. B. his salary, as agreed in the contract between the Hospital and Dr. B. (Sahlolbei) further argues he was under no obligation to disclose to the Hospital his side-contract with Dr. B. These arguments lack merit because they do not refute the fact that defendant’s false and misleading representations induced the Hospital to enter into a contract with Dr. B., which included terms the Hospital would not have agreed to, had (Sahlolbei) not made false and misleading statements. The Hospital would not have paid Dr. B. the excess money (Sahlolbei) skimmed off of Dr. B.’s Hospital salary and relocation fee paid by the Hospital to Dr. B. We therefore conclude there was substantial evidence to support defendant’s conviction for theft by false pretenses.”

Sahlolbei subsequently appealed the appellate court’s affirmed ruling to the California Supreme Court – which officially denied the petition on Dec. 11, 2019.

According to the Medical Board of California (MBC), Sahlolbei’s license remains under probation – four years, effective Nov. 2, 2017 – as ordered per the state agency’s disciplinary administrative action following the grand theft jury conviction.

“During probation, Dr. Sahlolbei is prohibited from supervising physician assistants and advanced practice nurses,” states Sahlolbei’s current MBC record.

The Palo Verde Healthcare District’s (PVHD) Dec. 4, 2019, Board of Directors agenda notes Sahlolbei as the reporting Medical Executive Committee’s Chief of Staff.

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