How bad do you have to suck at being a doctor that the Americans toss your ass in prison for 30-to-life?
This highlights a HUGE difference in culture and training that differentiates western medical doctors from those in the third world. You know, the third world where you can buy and cheat your way to an M.D. because that’s just the way it’s done there and they will typically do almost anything for money. Slightly different than the standards we are used to here in North America.
Federal authorities in recent years have cracked down on so-called “pill mills” from New York to New Orleans. In 2014, federal prosecutors in New York indicted two dozen defendants — doctors among them — for flooding city streets with more than 5 million tablets of the heroin-like painkiller oxycodone.
A year later, the Justice Department announced the “largest pharmaceutical-related takedown in the DEA’s history,” resulting in the arrests of 280 people, including 22 doctors and pharmacists implicated in a scheme to distribute vast quantities of painkillers and other addictive drugs in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.
There have also been cases against self-employed physicians like Tseng.
Last month, DEA agents raided the office of an Atlanta-area psychiatrist who had 12 patients die of prescription drug overdoses. The doctor was charged with prescribing addictive narcotics to patients who didn’t need them. The case, and deaths, remain under investigation.
In December, a Santa Barbara, California, physician was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison after being convicted of catering to addicts who paid him cash for prescriptions. Dr. Julio Diaz, called “the Candy Man” by some of his patients, “turned young people into addicts,” according to prosecutors. Diaz was seen as such a threat by fellow doctors that they kept a spreadsheet documenting emergency room visits by his patients. Diaz was linked to 20 patient deaths, though he was not charged with the fatalities.
In 2013, another Southern California doctor, Alvin Yee, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for peddling prescriptions in Orange County Starbucks coffee houses. The doctor was caught on surveillance tape conducting cursory exams of “patients,” then issuing prescriptions in exchange for wads of cash. Yee was linked to a pair of patient deaths, according to court papers, but was not charged.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Luotto Wolf, who prosecuted both doctors, said she focused on drug dealing charges because they carried sufficiently stiff sentences and were not subject to cause-of-death determinations, which can be very complicated in doctor prosecutions.
Like Nomady, the DEA agent, Wolf said she was struck by the number of patients who turned to heroin once they got hooked on pills.
“These are people who never in a million years thought they’d be injecting themselves,” she said.
Niedermann, the Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, said he knew nothing about prescription drug cases before being assigned one by chance in 2008. In that case, he won a conviction against a Los Angeles doctor who was raking in $1 million a year, mostly in cash, by catering to addicts. He was sentenced to five years in state prison.
After that case, Niedermann took on another. And then another. He has since obtained convictions against seven doctors for prescribing-related offenses.
With awareness of prescription drug abuse increasing exponentially in recent years, Niedermann said, he has fielded calls from police and prosecutors around the country seeking his advice about whether and how to proceed against a doctor.
“There’s a lot of interest,” he said. “When you hear somebody has stuck their toe in the pool, everybody wants to know what the temperature is.”