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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

    (213) 894-6947
    thom.mrozek@usdoj.gov



    Return to the 2009 Press Release Index
    Release No. 09-136

    November 16, 2009

    DOCTOR SENTENCED TO NEARLY FIVE YEARS IN PRISON FOR WRITING CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE PRESCRIPTIONS FOR CASH

    SANTA ANA, California – A physician who operated a medical clinic in Westminster was sentenced today to 57 months in federal prison for illegally writing prescriptions for “patients” who simply paid cash to have access to dangerous narcotics.

    Vu Le, 46, of Midway City, was sentenced by United States District Judge James V. Selna.

    Le pleaded guilty in June to all 15 felony counts contained in an indictment that accused him of charging up to $150 to write prescriptions for powerful and addictive painkillers for people he did not examine. Most of the prescriptions were for Oxycodone (sold in various forms, including the brand name OxyContin) and the painkiller Hydrocodone (available in various forms, including the brand name Vicodin).

    When he pleaded guilty, Le admitted that in 2005 and 2006 he provided prescriptions to persons seeking controlled substances without a legitimate medical reason in exchange for cash payment. These individuals came to Le's medical office in Westminster and paid $150 in cash to be seen by the doctor. After claiming that they had pain and needed medication, Le prescribed controlled substances, usually Hydrocodone (a Schedule III controlled substance) and Oxycodone (a Schedule II controlled substance). Le wrote the prescritions without examination, without referral slips and without any other documentation showing a legitimate medical reason for the prescription. Le admitted that his actions in prescribing these controlled substances were outside the scope of professional practice.

    As part of the investigation into Le, special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted undercover operations in which they posed as individuals seeking controlled substances. During the undercover meetings, Le did not examine the undercover agents, nor did he take a thorough medical history from them. Instead, he simply wrote prescriptions for Oxycondone and Hydrocodone in a manner that was outside the usual course of professional practice.

    After his arrest in December 2006, Le told the DEA that 70 percent of his total revenue came from his “pain management” and that he made approximately $50,000 a month from his practice.

    The investigation into Le was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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    Release No. 09-136
    Return to the 2009 Press Release Index