SANTA ANA (CBSLA) – An Irvine doctor was arrested Tuesday on federal allegations he knowingly prescribed medication to drug addicts, leading to at least five overdose deaths, and who was concerned he may have also indirectly supplied drugs to the gunman who perpetrated the massacre at the Thousand Oaks bar last month, officials reported.
Dzung Ahn Pham, 57, of Tustin, was arrested by DEA agents Tuesday morning on two counts of illegally distributing oxycodone. Pham owns Irvine Village Urgent Care, located at 2500 Alton Pkwy., the Justice Department reports.
Pham was selling large amounts of prescription drugs to patients he knew were addicts, and without examining them, and was aware they would also turn around and sell the drugs on the black market, the Justice Department said.
Between 2014 and 2017, at least five people who filled prescriptions from Pham have died, according to a criminal complaint.
Following the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill on Nov. 7, in which 28-year-old Ian David Long opened fire in the crowded bar, killing 12 people, Pham sent a text message in which he "expressed concern" that Long may have been in possession of drugs which Pham had prescribed to someone else.
"One of my patient (sic) just told me that the thousand oak shooter, ian david long, had my prescription bottles that belong to some (sic) else," Pham wrote in a text obtained by DEA investigators. "I never saw Mr. Long before, so I dont (sic) know the implication of this information."
Furthermore, the complaint alleges that one of Pham's patients was 25-year-old Stephen Taylor Scarpa, who told authorities he was under the influence of drugs prescribed by Pham when, on Nov. 3, he allegedly struck and killed a Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue captain who was out biking. Several prescription bottles with Pham's name were found in Scarpa's car following the crash, the complaint reads.
Scarpa is charged with murder in the death of 43-year-old Mike Kreza, a husband and father of three.
Investigators discovered at least 84 patients immediately had their prescriptions filled after simply sending Pham a text message request, documents read. Those drugs included Adderall, oxycodone, tramadol, suboxone, norco, soma, alprazolam and hydrocodone bitartrate-acetaminophen.
More than five years ago, a CVS pharmacy in Irvine stopped filling prescriptions from Pham over concerns about the number of opioid pills he was prescribing, the Justice Department said.
Between 2013 and September 2018, Pham deposited more than $5 million, most of it cash, into his personal bank accounts, the complaint states. He also deposited another $1.7 million into a business bank account over that same time.
The DEA has been investigating Pham since 2015, and conducted two undercover operations on him this past summer.
If convicted as charged, he faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison. The DEA and Irvine police are continuing to investigate.
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