Notorious Killer, Dr. Ali Salim, Loses Medical License Permanently
It is one of the most notorious murder cases of the last few years, a pregnant woman killed by a man who took an oath to save lives. This afternoon, the State Medical Board permanently revoked the license of Dr. Ali Salim. If he ever gets out of prison, he'll never practice medicine again.
Wednesday was the headstone on a doctor's career. He dug the grave himself.
Last December, handcuffed and in an orange jail suit, Ali Salim stood and faced a Delaware County judge.
"My actions have caused immense harm," he said. "I can't think of anyone else but me who must be responsible for those actions."
In July, 2012 Deanna Ballman, nine months pregnant, answered a Craigslist ad that took her to Salim's New Albany home. The next day she was found in a car, dead of a heroin overdose, and her unborn baby, too. The Delaware County investigation quickly turned to Salim, a psychiatrist and emergency room physician.
"In this particular care, they called and asked for assistance," said Aaron Haslam, executive director of the State Medical Board.
For the first time, the State Medical Board let a news team in, to see how they investigate a doctor.
"The State Medical Board has subpoena authority," said Randy Beck.
Beck is one of 20 investigators who work for the board. They also have subpoena power and carry guns. Most are former detectives with experience in drug crime. It comes in handy. This case involved a woman who died of a heroin overdose.
The board's investigators checked out 1,500 complaints last year, and found most without merit. But more than 200 times, they uncovered enough evidence for the board to discipline more than 200 physicians. Some cases involved doctors not practicing the standards for care. Some involved doctors who were impaired. And some involved criminal activities, like the case of Ali Salim.
"Ninety-nine percent of physicians cooperate," said Beck.
They do because they want their licenses back. But Haslam said that Salim did not cooperate with the board's investigation.
Deputies from the Delaware County Sheriff's Office removed removed bags of evidence, and talked to neighbors, doctors, family, and employees.
In non-criminal cases, board investigators ask the questions.
"A lot of times others who have been wronged by a particular physician or licensee, they're willing to talk with us, " Haslam said. "They think that they're helping an individual out, in this case Dr. Salim, when in reality, they're just giving us the facts. Sometimes if they just give us the facts, then the truth comes out and it's not always in a favorable light, as was the case with Dr. Salim."
Deputies learned that Salim liked to take photos of women in underwear. They shared all information with the board from text messages, phone calls, and computers. Then they discovered the piece of evidence that Haslam thinks convinced Salim to plead guilty, rather than face a jury trial.
"Former Dr. Salim actually videotaped a sexual assault of the victim that ultimately died after the sexual assault, but it was while she was passed out after he had injected her, or after she was injected with heroin."
Haslam says investigators still don't know if Salim injected Ballman, or if he gave the heroin to Ballman and let her inject herself. It didn't matter as much as what the video revealed, Haslam said.
"That came into the possession of law enforcement and was the smoking gun, so to speak. Not only for their case, but for our case as well," he said.
Salim automatically lost his physician's license when he pled guilty to felonies involving manslaughter and abuse of a corpse. He took an Alford plea to rape. It allows Salim to assert his innocence to the charge while admitting the evidence would likely persuade a judge or jury to find him guilty.