How Was Disgraced Virginia Psychiatrist Saifullah Niazi Able to Run a Chain of Group Homes?

March 1, 2023

In 2005, a Richmond psychiatrist met with his patient at a hotel and engaged in sexual activities, handing her liquor and medical drugs.

He ran a business that churned through dozens, at times over a hundred, patients a day—yet from at least 2011 to 2013, he didn't see many of the patients himself. Instead, his other unlicensed staff members diagnosed and prescribed medicine for them, which would sometimes be the wrong dosage. They took the prescriptions to his office merely to have him sign off on them. Other times, he prescribed patients drugs without documenting or examining them, even upping their dosages without medical reasons.

At least one patient in his care died of a prescription opioid overdose.

This psychiatrist, Dr. Niazi Saifullah, would eventually have his license suspended twice by the Virginia Board of Medicine in 2006 and in 2013 after they conducted an extensive investigation into his business, all of which have been documented and made public.

Yet he was allowed to run multiple assisted living facilities despite his questionable records—facilities that housed those with mental or physical disabilities.

How did Niazi's malpractice extend to his group home residents?

Niazi ran at least two assisted living facilities—one in Richmond and another in Petersburg. He took ownership of Petersburg’s Fillmore Place in 2013 until 2022, when the state finally shut the facility down after a Progress-Index investigation revealed copious violations and horrendous living conditions.

The Fillmore Place was notoriously known in the community as one of the worst facilities in the area, a place that reeked of urine, was infested with bed bugs, and where cracks and holes proliferated on the walls. Employees we spoke to were never given background checks or training, and the facility failed to keep proper records of their residents' medical needs or assessments.

Residents at the Fillmore Place complained of having to live in filthy and unsanitary conditions. Basic necessities like toilet paper and soap weren’t readily available, and one resident had to use pages from a book to wipe himself. They often were seen wearing torn-up clothing and panhandling around the neighborhood since some were only given a few dollars a week to spend.

Money that should have gone to the residents, including their stimulus checks, were never given to them. In fact, a state investigation found that the owner had kept at least one resident’s stimulus money, though the residents we talked to said that no one in the facility received any stimulus money.

The assisted living facility he operated in Richmond’s Carytown, Old Dominion Adult Home, received similar complaints from neighbors and businesses who observed that the residents were not properly dressed for the winters and were panhandling on the street. It, like the Fillmore, had the capacity to house 89 residents.

The state shut the facility down shortly after they conducted the last inspection on Dec. 2007. The P-I FOIAed for Old Dominion's last inspection report, which reported beds that had no sheets, soiled walls, and having no registered dietician despite having residents with diabetes.

Licensees must give proof of good character in order to run a facility. How did Niazi's record slip under the cracks?

According to the state’s standards, the licensee of an assisted living facility must be of good character/ reputation, give evidence of good financial standing, and be able to safeguard the physical and mental well-being of the residents.

Applicants who want to run an assisted living facility must submit a background check, a sworn statement disclosing if they have any criminal convictions or pending charges, as well as three references who are familiar with the applicant’s character.

The licensing team at the Department of Social Services, who is in charge of granting the applicant the license to operate a facility, wrote to the the P-I in an email that Niazi’s application and required documentation “were found to be compliant.”

The Licensing department did not answer questions regarding if they checked to see if Niazi had any disciplinary records with the medical board to find his history of malpractice.

"Somebody at licensing, whoever handled their application just did a very sloppy job. Or use poor judgment,” said Anne See, a paralegal who has worked extensively in elderly abuse cases.

There are barrier crimes that would prevent an individual from owning a facility or working at one, such as sexual abuse charges (including with minors), murder, rape, shooting willfully at something or someone, larceny, sex trafficking and more.

A quick search on Niazi’s criminal records through the Virginia courts shows only a handful of charges, including a couple for common nuisance and one for reckless driving. And while he ran a dangerous and illegal psychiatry practice that put his patients in harm's way, he was never brought to court.

He slipped under the radar of those in the licensing department, financially exploiting residents and running facilities that violated numerous state codes.

There are currently no criminal charges being brought against him for financially exploiting his Fillmore Place resident.

Does Niazi own any other facilities and will he be able to operate future facilities?

Niazi operated the Fillmore under Riteway LLC, and he operated Old Dominion under Best Care LLC. When asked if Niazi is still operating any other facilities in the state and if licensing plans to investigate other facilities he may be running, a spokesperson wrote that they are not able to search if Niazi owns other facilities due to "systems limitations." The Old Dominion Home has now been converted to apartments. The Fillmore Place has been red-tagged by the city, and the building is not allowed to be in use until structural fixes are made. A search on the Department of Social Services website for the history of Old Dominion Home inspection records produced none. DSS scrubs the records off their website of facilities that are no longer active.

When asked if Niazi would be allowed to continue operating another assisted living facility in the future, a spokesperson for the licensing department said that the state regulation indicates that those who have been refused a license renewal are barred from operating a facility for one year.

“Future applications for licensure received, after one year from the special order, will be reviewed following this same protocol and any additional relevant information taken into consideration during the application process,” said the spokesperson.

Source: Joyce Chu, “How a doctor with a history of malpractice got away with running multiple group homes,” The Progress-Index, Feb. 20, 2023, URL:



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