Orange County Doctor and Two Employees Indicted on Federal Drug Charges that Allege Illegal Prescriptions Written without Medical Need
SANTA ANA, California – A federal grand jury has indicted a doctor who operated a medical clinic in Fountain Valley, as well as two physician assistants who worked at the clinic, on federal drug trafficking charges that allege they issued prescriptions for dangerous and addictive narcotics without a medical purpose.
The indictment, which was returned by the grand jury on June 8, was announced today after one of the physician assistants was arrested this morning by federal authorities in the Bay Area. The other defendants have agreed to surrender.
Dr. Victor Boon Huat Siew, 65, a resident of Laguna Beach, is accused of seeing “patients” – some of whom were addicted to drugs, and some of whom were undercover law enforcement officers – and issuing prescriptions outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.
The indictment alleges that Siew wrote prescriptions for at least four people who died from drug overdoses within days of seeing the doctor.
Siew and his employees allegedly wrote prescriptions for narcotics for “patients” who often paid cash for office visits that typically involved only the most cursory examination, if any at all.
The most common drugs prescribed by Siew and his employees were oxycodone (best known under the brand name OxyContin), methadone (a synthetic opioid often used as a treatment for addiction to opioids such as heroin), and alprazolam (sold primarily under the brand name Xanax).
The physician assistant arrested today – Kaitlyn Phuong Nguyen, 31, of San Jose, California – is expected to make a court appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in San Jose.
Siew is expected to surrender to federal authorities tomorrow. He is expected to be arraigned tomorrow afternoon in United States District Court in Santa Ana.
The third defendant in the case – physician assistant Thanh Nha T. Pham, 45, of Fountain Valley – has agreed to surrender to authorities later this week.
“Opioids such as oxycodone and methadone can bring substantial benefits to patients who truly need these drugs,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “But narcotics such as these also threaten the lives of people who abuse the drugs or become addicted. Medical professionals who prescribe dangerous drugs without a medical need are harming patients and threaten entire communities when these drugs are diverted to the black market.”
“DEA is committed to ending the nationwide prescription opioid epidemic,” said Special Agent in Charge John S. Comer. “Medical professionals who act with complete disregard for patient health and safety violate their code of ethics and abuse the public’s trust. We will continue to target those engaged in criminally motivated ‘prescription-for-profit’ schemes.”
The indictment alleges one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and 55 counts of illegal distribution of a controlled substance by a practitioner. Each of the three defendants is charged in multiple, but not all, illegal distribution counts.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
Each of the 56 counts in the indictment carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Fountain Valley Police Department and the California Department of Justice. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ann Luotto Wolf.