Congressmen ask GBI to investigate doctor linked to immigration detention center

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Complaints allege gynecologist performed unauthorized surgeries on detainees

Georgia’s four Democratic congressmen have asked state law enforcement authorities to investigate a gynecologist who is accused of performing unauthorized surgeries on detainees at a South Georgia immigration detention center.

Dr. Mahendra Amin is at the center of a controversy that began last week when a nurse who worked at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla filed a whistleblower complaint. Dawn Wooten alleged the facility was not protecting employees and detainees from the spread of COVID-19 and that several women had reported Amin had performed surgeries that left them sterile.

U.S. Reps. Sanford Bishop, Hank Johnson, Lucy McBath and David Scott sent a letter Monday to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, calling for a probe.

“We request the GBI immediately open an investigation into the whistleblower allegations that Mahendra Amin and other medical professionals at ICDC violated the criminal laws of the State of Georgia by performing unnecessary medical procedures on patients without their informed consent,” the letter says.

A GBI spokeswoman, Nelly Miles, said the agency is aware of a federal investigation into the allegations.

“By state law, the GBI can only initiate an investigation at the request of specific individuals, including police chiefs, sheriffs, and district attorneys,” Miles said in an email.

Amin “vehemently disagrees with the whistleblower’s allegations and sincerely hopes that Congress and all other interested parties will withhold judgment until all of the facts come out,” his attorney, Scott Grubman, said in an email.

“We are confident that once the actual evidence is developed and reviewed, it will become clear to everyone that Dr. Amin did not engage in this alleged misconduct,” Grubman added.

Also Tuesday, Bryan Cox, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed Amin has stopped treating patients from the detention center, though Cox declined to elaborate.

Amin did not work directly for the detention center, which is operated by a private company, LaSalle Corrections. ICE apparently paid Amin directly when he treated detainees outside the facility.

Along with his role on the medical staff, Amin is chief executive of a company that managed the Irwin County Hospital from 1996 to about 2015. The hospital paid a $520,000 civil penalty in 2015 after the facility, Amin and other doctors were accused of falsifying Medicaid and Medicare claims.

In a statement Tuesday, the hospital said Amin had performed surgery on two women from the detention center who were referred for hysterectomies. The statement did not address other procedures, such as the removal of ovaries or fallopian tubes, that detainees have reported.

The hospital’s chief executive did not respond to a request for an interview.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General said Tuesday it had begun an “evaluation” of the detention center. A spokesman for the office said investigators would speak with Wooten, the whistleblower, as well as detainees and employees. The inspector general, the spokesman said, “takes these allegations very seriously.”