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Press Release

Former Modesto Doctor Pleads Guilty to Illegally Prescribing Opioids

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — Sawtantra Chopra, 76, of Modesto, pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of illegally prescribing opioids and other medication, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, Chopra admitted prescribing drugs — including hydrocodone, alprazolam (Xanax), and Promethazine with codeine syrup — outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. These drugs are highly addictive and commonly abused. They affect the central nervous system and may only be prescribed when medically required.

Chopra surrendered his medical license in 2020 as the case was pending.

This case is the product of an investigation by the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse Drug Diversion Team, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Michael Tierney is prosecuting the case.

Chopra is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 5, 2023, by U.S. District Judge Jennifer L. Thurston. Chopra faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Updated May 11, 2023

Prescription Drugs