Echo of gunfire, questions follow arrested doctor

 The outside of Dr. Randeep Mann's medical practice in Russellville, Ark., is seen, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. Mann, 50, remains in federal custody on c...

Doctor Grenades

The outside of Dr. Randeep Mann's medical practice in Russellville, Ark., is seen, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. Mann, 50, remains in federal custody on c...

On a cliff overlooking Lake Dardanelle, the sound of automatic gunfire occasionally broke the quiet in the luxury enclave of four homes.
The noise didn't bother Dr. Randeep Mann's neighbors, who knew through conversation or gossip he had amassed a large collection of firearms in his expansive brick home. The 50-year-old had a federal license to sell machine guns and his large family kept mostly to themselves, though their dachshunds would wander into other yards.
But complaints about patient deaths and allegations over pain-pill prescriptions slowly built up against Mann, a naturalized U.S. citizen from India. Federal agents raided his home March 4 over a buried cache of grenades, raising new questions about the man living in the shadow of the state's only nuclear power plant.
"We always said, 'We'd hate if he ever got mad at us,' because he does have many weapons," said Jeff Humphrey, assistant police chief in nearby Russellville. "There's a lot of people that have many weapons in their home. You just always pray they're on the right side of the law."
Mann, 50, remains in federal custody on charges he had at least four unregistered machine guns and owned grenades restricted for military use. The charges come after city workers taking a bathroom break in a wooded area near Mann's home stumbled across a canister containing 98 high-explosive military grenades. The rounds are designed to be fired from launchers attached to rifles.
Police immediately suspected Mann, who had showed investigators a grenade launcher a month earlier when they questioned him about an explosion that critically injured the chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board. Officers connected him with the grenades and found 110 machine guns spread out on his home's floors, inside closets and secured in safes while serving a search warrant.
Authorities say they ruled Mann out as a suspect in the car explosion, but the internal medicine specialist has a long history with the medical board. Two investigations by the state health department concluded that at least 16 of Mann's patients died of drug overdoses in the last decade.
Word of the deaths spread as doctors at the local hospital wrote to the board, asking it to investigate. Mann complained to Russellville police about a threat left on his voice mail from the sister of one of the overdosed dead.
"I know who you are and what you did to my friend," the caller said. "You will pay ... you will die, you will die."
By that point, Russellville detectives had their own investigation into the doctor's actions. One patient alleged Mann had an unspoken arrangement with her for sex in exchange for drugs, according to a police transcript. However, a detective stopped a 2002 interview with the patient once he discovered a tape recorder hidden inside of her bra.
The patient "alleged that Dr. Mann 'planted the wire,'" a state health department investigation claims.
The woman died from a drug overdose in October 2005. Pharmacy records showed Mann prescribed her narcotic painkillers and anti-anxiety medication just before her death.
The board, which once revoked Mann's prescription privileges for narcotics for a year, revoked them entirely. Mann repeatedly denied the allegations against him and fought some of the board's decisions in court.
In letters to board members, Mann noted other people who died of overdoses in the area. He wrote that he felt "on a gradual slide" and was burdened by the expense of having three children in college.
"Blaming the physicians for what the patients chose to do is wrong," Mann wrote.
U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents say they found $50,000 in cash in Mann's home during their search last week _ with $34,000 of that hidden inside a car's trunk. Agents said the machine guns alone were worth more than $1 million.
Outside his home, a Mercedes Benz with vanity license plates "MADBUGG" sits between a Lexus sedan and a Toyota coupe. Three personal watercraft sit nearby, with an empty boat trailer at the other end of the house.
Down the road, neighbor Dennis Walton, 52, said he only spoke to Mann once about buying his property. Records show Mann's brother Sandip Mann, earlier deported from the United States with his wife in 2002 after their visas expired, still owns about 3 acres near Mann's home and 30 acres near Atkins.
"They're pretty good people," Walton said. "You could do a lot worse."
Walton, a retired Marine, said he heard automatic fire at least once over at Mann's home, likely rounds being sprayed into the empty lake below. Otherwise, the family stayed to themselves in a neighborhood just up the hill from Arkansas Nuclear One.
Collecting firearms isn't uncommon in Arkansas, where rifles and shotguns routinely echo across rural rice fields and highlands during hunting season.
At Mann's home, no one answered the door Tuesday. The home, which once housed Mann's family, his brother and sister-in-law and his father, now sits mostly empty.

Updated : 2021-04-13 10:44 GMT+08:00