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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Anesthesiologist Pleads Guilty to Unlawfully Distributing Oxycodone

Moved From Medical Marijuana Authorizations To Distribution Of Narcotic Painkillers

            A former hospital anesthesiologist pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to distribution of oxycodone, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  HIEU TU LE, 40, of Snohomish, Washington, a medical doctor licensed in Washington State since 2004, operated medical clinics in Seattle and Everett, Washington.  In his plea agreement, LE admits that between March 2012 and July 2013 he wrote oxycodone prescriptions for cash and obtained oxycodone that he distributed for cash, all without a legitimate medical need to do so.  When sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly on April 3, 2014, the prosecution and defense will recommend between five and seven years in prison.  Judge Zilly is not bound by the recommendation and can impose any sentence up to the 20 years in prison allowed by law.

            According to records filed in the case and statements made in court today, LE left his job as an anesthesiologist with Valley General Hospital in Monroe, Washington in March 2012.  From March to September 2012, LE operated a medical clinic on Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood providing medical marijuana authorizations.  In September 2012, LE opened a clinic in Everett called Northwest Green Medical.  Beginning in March 2012 and continuing until July 2013, LE wrote multiple oxycodone prescriptions for cash to people who did not need them for legitimate medical purposes.  LE would also hand deliver the prescriptions to an Everett pharmacy, pick up the oxycodone pills, and then sell the pills to people who he knew did not have a legitimate medical need for the pills.  LE knew that some of the people to whom he sold the pills were reselling them to others, feeding drug addiction in the community.  LE’s Everett clinic was the subject of a federal search warrant in July 2013.  At that time, LE voluntarily surrendered his DEA registration, which had authorized him to prescribe controlled substances.

            As part of the plea agreement, LE is forfeiting to the government various brokerage and bank accounts as proceeds of his drug distribution, and a 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid purchased with drug distribution proceeds.

            The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Health and Human Services (HHS), and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mike Lang and Matt Diggs.

Updated March 23, 2015