Sentence for accused 'greedy butcher' surgeon 'truly up for grabs'

Legal expert weighs in on Dr. Aria Sabit's impending punishment

DETROIT – Sentencing day is looming for Dr. Aria Sabit, whom prosecutors have called a greedy butcher, in reference to his willingness to perform unnecessary spinal surgeries in order to line his pockets with millions of dollars in cash.
“There is no other explanation to what he did and what he admitted to, other than greed,” said Neil Rockind, a Local 4 legal expert who examined the legal filings.

Sabit came to the United States from Afghanistan, where his father is a former attorney general and his uncle was speaker of the house. Sabit went on to study medicine in the U.S., in pursuit of the American dream.

He eventually became a neurosurgeon and practiced in California, until he lost his license to do so. He then moved to Metro Detroit to run the Michigan Brain and Spine Physician’s Group.

Sabit made a home for himself in a $2 million mansion in Bloomfield Hills, complete with a pool, parlor and palatial grounds. Federal prosecutors said he paid for it all with deceit and fraud.

Sabit has admitted to cutting into patients, in some cases unnecessarily. In other instances, the medical devices he said he would implant were never used. In October, a Local 4 reporter caught up with one of Sabit’s victims.

“He said he put hardware in my spine that he didn’t,” Sheree Robidoux said.

Federal investigators said Robidoux is one of hundreds of victims, and officials allege Sabit billed millions in fraudulent claims while profiting from a kickback arrangement in which he was incentivized to take on more complex surgeries regardless of medical necessity.

Authorities said Sabit performed the surgeries poorly, and called some “plain butchery.”

“I have faith that our system will eventually get him, and hopefully, he will get the time he greatly deserves,” victim Ronald Reinhardt said.

Reinhardt came to court several months ago to see the doctor’s sentencing, but a plea deal of 10 years was rejected by the judge, who refused to the terms.

Now, Sabit has pleaded guilty. There’s no plea deal currently in place, and he could be sentenced to anything from probation to life behind bars.

“When there is no sentencing agreement and the parties are free to argue at both ends of the spectrum, we, the public; the accused, Dr. Sabit and the government have no idea what the outcome will be,” Rockind said. “This is truly up for grabs.”

Monday is slated for judgment day. Prosecutors will ask for at least 20 years for Sabit. The court is expected to be packed with victims who want to be heard.

And the doctor, who came to the United States for the American dream, will have the opportunity to make one final plea for mercy and freedom before the judge has the final say.