Federal Jury Convicts Big Island Pain Doctor Rudolph B. Puana of Conspiracy and Distribution of Oxycodone and Fentanyl
Contact: Assistant U. S. Attorney Orlando B. Gutierrez, 619-546-6958
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – August 31, 2016
SAN DIEGO – Physician Naga Raja Thota, a pain specialist with an office in El Cajon, was arrested this morning and charged with distributing oxycodone and other highly addictive drugs without any legitimate medical purpose in exchange for sex acts.
The doctor was taken into custody by San Diego Drug Enforcement Administration agents at his practice. He is scheduled to make his first appearance in federal court at 2 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernie Skomal.
The complaint said at least two young women received prescriptions for opioids without a legitimate medical purpose on numerous occasions in exchange for sex acts. The complaint also shows a pattern in which sexually-explicit texts are exchanged by the doctor and the women, followed by prescriptions written for them by Thota.
According to the complaint, one victim said she met Thota when she was hospitalized for withdrawal symptoms for Hydrocodone and Alprazolam. Thota agreed to treat her but documented that his treatment was for pain even though this victim did not suffer from any medical condition that caused chronic or ongoing pain. This victim also stated that Thota kept increasing the dosage.
This victim, who was twenty years old when she met Thota, said she felt that if she did not submit to sexual acts with Thota he would not have provided her with additional opioid prescriptions. After being exposed to greater dosage levels of opioids by Thota, the young woman started using an even stronger opioid – heroin.
“Prescription drug abuse and overdoses have reached alarming levels,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “We are going after doctors who abuse their power to prescribe and exploit the desperation of addicts for their own gratification.”
“Doctors who exploit patients are the worst kind of predators.” said DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge William Sherman. “DEA recognizes the trust the citizens of San Diego place in their doctors. We will continue to ensure that physicians who are abusing that trust by bartering sex for prescriptions will be arrested and prosecuted.”
If anyone has information regarding other victims or if you believe you were victimized by Dr. Thota, we urge you to contact DEA at (858) 616-4100 and ask for the Diversion Duty Agent.
Under Title 21, United States Code, Section 841, and Title 21, United States Code of Federal Regulations, Section 1306.04(a), a medical doctor may not prescribe a controlled substance unless there is a legitimate medical purpose.
DEFENDANT CRIMINAL CASE NO. 16MJ2679
Naga Raja Thota Age: 62 San Diego, CA
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Counts 1-7 Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1)– Dispensing Controlled Substances Without a Legitimate Medical Purpose. Maximum penalties: 20 years of custody, $1 million fine, life-term of supervised release.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration