West Hollywood Doctor Indicted on Federal Charges for Writing Prescriptions for Narcotics after being Ordered to Stop
LOS ANGELES – A West Hollywood doctor surrendered to federal authorities this morning after being indicted last Friday on federal drug trafficking charges that allege he wrote more than 1,200 prescriptions for powerful painkillers after a federal order revoked his authority to prescribe those drugs.
James William Eisenberg, 72, who resides in the Venice district of Los Angeles, surrendered this morning at the United States Courthouse, where he is expected to be arraigned this afternoon.
Eisenberg is named in an indictment that charges him with four counts of using a revoked DEA registration number and three counts of distribution of hydrocodone, which is the generic drug found in brand-name products such as Vicodin and Norco.
Eisenberg allegedly wrote the prescriptions while he worked out of several medical offices in West Hollywood, including a Santa Monica Boulevard storefront he called Pacific Support Services. Eisenberg also issued “medical marijuana” recommendations from these West Hollywood locations, according to court documents and DEA administrative records.
In order to legally prescribe controlled substances such as hydrocodone, physicians must be registered with the United States Attorney General and have a valid DEA registration number. On December 14, 2011, a DEA administrative judge determined that Eisenberg acted as a “drug dealer” and suspended his registration number. The DEA issued an order permanently revoking Eisenberg’s registration on July 24, 2012.
The orders issued by the administrative judge were based on findings that Eisenberg, who at the time was working out of a “medical marijuana” club in Arizona, “lacked a legitimate medical purpose and acted outside of the usual course of professional practice” when he wrote prescriptions for oxycodone (the generic form of a drug often best known as the brand-name OxyContin) and Xanax in exchange for $150 cash payments. The DEA judge also found that Eisenberg wrote “medical marijuana” recommendations to undercover officers posing as patients, and that Eisenberg prescribed OxyContin to one of the undercover agents “before [Eisenberg] had even performed a physical examination.”
DEA investigators later learned that Eisenberg continued to prescribe controlled substances, including hydrocodone, in violation of the DEA’s orders. A review of a California Department of Justice database that can be used to track prescriptions showed that, following the suspension of Eisenberg’s registration number, patients filled more than 1,700 of his prescriptions for controlled substances, including more than 1,200 prescriptions for hydrocodone. As charged in the indictment, Eisenberg wrote one of those prescriptions on December 27, 2011, less than two weeks after his registration number was suspended.
DEA investigators executed a federal search warrant on one of Eisenberg’s West Hollywood offices on February 19, 2013. The affidavit in support of the search warrant outlines evidence, including surveillance and undercover operations, that Eisenberg continued to write prescriptions for controlled substances in violation of the DEA’s revocation order. The evidence included an operation in which an undercover agent, posing as a patient, obtained a prescription from Eisenberg for hydrocodone and alprazolam (the generic form of a drug best known as Xanax). A receptionist at Eisenberg's office asked the undercover agent if “he was looking for medical marijuana” as well, according to the search warrant affidavit.
According to the affidavit, when a West Hollywood pharmacist refused to fill Eisenberg prescriptions for hydrocodone and alprazolam in June 2012, Eisenberg called the pharmacy and asked the pharmacist to make an “exception” and fill the prescription.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
If convicted of the seven counts in the indictment, Eisenberg faces a statutory maximum sentence of 46 years in federal prison.
The investigation into Eisenberg was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Release No. 13-068
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