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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

Monday, January 5, 2015

SoCal Doctor Who Distributed Addictive Painkiller Hydrocodone And Laundered More Than $1 Million In Illegal Proceeds Sentenced To Over 5 Years In Federal Prison

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles-area doctor who was convicted last summer of narcotics trafficking for illegally distributing the powerful painkiller best known by the brand names Vicodin and Norco was sentenced today to 63 months in federal prison.

Dr. Andrew Sun, 79, of La Mirada, was sentenced this afternoon by United States District Judge Manual Real.

A federal jury in August found Sun guilty of 14 counts of narcotics distribution after determining that he illegally issued prescriptions for hydrocodone and alprazolam – the drug best known as Xanax – in exchange for cash payments from “patients.” According to a sentencing memo filed by federal prosecutors, “When prescribed together, these drugs form an especially potent and deadly cocktail for which there is no legitimate medical purpose.”

The evidence at trial showed that Sun issued more than 24,000 prescriptions over a three-year period and generated more than $1.1 million in cash through what prosecutors called “a cash-and-carry narcotics store.”

Sun was also found guilty of three counts of money laundering.

“The jury convicted defendant of using his pedigree as a doctor to endanger his patients’ lives and to profit from their addiction,” prosecutors said in court papers. “Consistent with the guilty verdicts, defendant acted with no legitimate medical purpose and defendant sought to cover his tracks through systematic fraud and deception, including his attempt to conceal the hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegal proceeds.”

Sun, who operated medical clinics in San Gabriel and East Los Angeles, issued prescriptions to a dozen “patients” – in reality, undercover law enforcement officers – who made cash payments. Two medical experts retained by the government to review Sun’s interaction with the undercover operatives (UCs) concluded that “that there was no medical legitimacy to defendant’s meetings with the UCs, and that his conduct was an extreme departure from the accepted standard of care.”

Sun’s conviction last year in United States District Court was the second time he was found culpable for illegally writing prescriptions. In 2007, the Medical Board of California placed Sun on probation for four years and required him to complete special training and to generate special reports on his activities. But in 2010, the Medical Board found that he submitted false statements to the regulatory agency and extended his probation for another four years, which included a ban on prescribing certain medications, including the highly addictive drug best known under the brand name OxyContin.

The investigation into Sun was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS - Criminal Investigation, the Medical Board of California, the California Department of Health Care Services and the Monterey Park Police Department.

Release No. 15-001

Updated June 22, 2015