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Chinatown physician facing prescription drug charges

A San Francisco physician is facing drug charges after reportedly writing unnecessary painkiller prescriptions for homeless individuals throughout the region. Those people were then used to sell the drugs, promoting a scheme that ultimately yielded thousands of dollars for the supposedly unscrupulous doctor. The 68-year-old man has entered a not-guilty plea in connection with the allegations, which include drug charges such as dealing and conspiracy. The man has still been indicted on drug charges, even though it appears that he had lack of possession of the actual drugs in the criminal case.

Investigators allege that the man would issue bogus prescriptions for narcotic painkillers to homeless individuals who had no need for the medication. Those patients were recruited by another defendant, and they would surrender the pills to another individual after they obtained the medication a pharmacy. In all, the physician said he earned about $400,000 from the prescription sales; he profited by about $150 for the sale of each individual prescription. Official reports show that federal law enforcement officers became suspicious of the physician because of the number of prescriptions he was issuing in a San Francisco neighborhood. The man had been practicing in San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood for a significant amount of time.

Investigators say a federal agent was able to purchase 12 prescriptions from the doctor, all written for patients whom he had never assessed. Further, the physician was said to have requested medical records from the federal agent to prevent allegations that he had been falsifying prescriptions. The doctor thought investigators might ask for proof that the prescriptions were required for those patients.

The man's co-defendant has already pleaded guilty to conspiring to deal drugs, and he received a six-year prison sentence after entering his plea in June. In this case, the physician is still facing allegations of drug offenses even though he did not directly handle the prescription drugs. Even though the man's alleged assistant has already pleaded guilty to allegations related to the prescription drug sales, the doctor has the right to pursue a fair legal proceeding that could even include a jury trial. California residents who are facing similar prescription drug charges may benefit from consulting a qualified criminal defense attorney, who can help them learn more about their plea options and other related legal matters.

Source:  San Francisco Chronicle, "S.F. doctor charged in homeless drug ring" Vivian Ho, Dec. 16, 2013

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