Nearly 20 years in prison for rogue surgeon

Ed White
Associated Press

Detroit —A Metro Detroit doctor was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison for performing poor or unnecessary spinal surgeries in California and Michigan.

Federal Judge Paul Borman on Monday ordered Dr. Aria Sabit to serve 19 years and 6 months in prison after listening to 14 former patients who told emotional stories about their treatment under  Sabit. Some wore braces or supported themselves with canes. A woman was in a wheelchair.

Sabit also will be under lifetime supervision when he is released, court officials said Monday.

Victims had called for a long prison sentence for Sabit.

Borman called the unnecessary treatment “cruel and unusual punishment.” Sabit had a financial stake in a company that made spinal devices. He worked at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, California, until moving to Michigan in 2011.

Sabit, a native of Afghanistan, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud. He apologized and told the judge that he’s responsible for the pain and suffering.

Sabit admits hurting patients and cheating insurers with his work. One of his victims is Rick Porterfield, who was an executive at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, California, where Sabit was on staff.

Porterfield said: “Every move I make hurts.” He said he had to retire because of complications from Sabit’s surgery.

Sabit moved to Michigan in 2011. Angela Martin said her daughter was a victim of a “butchery job.”

Detroit News Staff Writer Holly Fournier contributed to this report.