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Press Release

Medical Doctor and Wife Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Acquire Controlled Substances by Fraud and Deception

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

Assistant U. S. Attorney Orlando B. Gutierrez (619) 546-6958    

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – December 16, 2015

SAN DIEGO – Dr. Matthew Cole and his wife, Shireen Cole, pleaded guilty yesterday to prescription drug-related charges, admitting that they conspired to obtain scheduled pharmaceutical drugs commonly known as Percocet, Xanax and Ambien by submitting fraudulent prescriptions to pharmacies as if they were valid.

Dr. Cole, a dermatologist at Insight Dermatology with offices in San Diego and National City, used his own prescription pad with his assigned DEA registration number to write prescriptions in the names of friends with whom he had no doctor-patient relationship, and who had no knowledge of the prescriptions written in their names. He also wrote prescriptions for his wife using her maiden name.

For example, Dr. Cole admitted in his plea agreement that he wrote a prescription for 60 10-milligram tablets of Oxycodone in the name of a female college friend and on December 27, 2014, his wife took it to be filled at a CVS Pharmacy. While still in the CVS Pharmacy, Shireen Cole, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist intern, handed the oxycodone tablets over to Dr. Cole.

Although the college friend was never a patient of Dr. Cole, on February 16, 2015, at his medical office, he created a false medical file for that friend, using his status as a licensed medical doctor to create the false appearance of a valid doctor/patient relationship.

In all, the defendants’ plea agreements listed 39 instances where fraudulent medical prescriptions were used to acquire Scheduled pharmaceutical drugs from commercial pharmacies. These 39 separate instances resulted in the acquisition of 1,820 tablets of scheduled pharmaceutical drugs, 1,280 of which were oxycodone – commonly known as Percocet.  The other drugs were zolpidem tartrate, commonly known as Ambien, and alprazolam, known as Xanax.

According to statements made in court yesterday, the defendants are both in drug treatment programs.

DEFENDANT                                  Case Number: 15CR3074-H

Matthew Cole, M.D.                                       Age: 37

Shireen Cole                                                    Age: 37                      

SUMMARY OF CHARGE                                                                 

Title 21 U.S.C. Sections 843(a)(3), 843(d)(1), and 846 – Conspiracy to Acquire Controlled Substances by Fraud, Deception, and Subterfuge

Maximum penalty: 4 years


Drug Enforcement Administration

Department of Health Care Services





Updated December 16, 2015

Prescription Drugs