Watch CBSN Live

California doc charged with murder after patients overdose on prescription drugs

A closeup of some pills pouring out of a prescription bottle.
98 people, including doctors and patients and alleged dealers, were charged in connection with several investigations into prescription drug trafficking on June 6, 2012. iStockphoto

(CBS/AP) LOS ANGELES - A doctor in California was arrested and charged with second-degree murder Thursday after three of her patients died from prescription drug overdoses.

Authorities say Dr. Hsui-Ying "Lisa" Tseng passed out prescriptions for drugs like Xanax and OxyContin, Vicodin and Adderall at a rate of 25 per day for three years, with only cursory patient examinations and a minimum of questions.

Tseng was reportedly being investigated for years, first coming under scrutiny by the California Medical Board and the DEA in 2008 after a pharmacy reported problems with her prescriptions.

The DEA suspended her license to write prescriptions in 2010 and the Osteopathic Medical Board of California said Tseng voluntarily surrendered her medical license.

Now Tseng is accused of murder in connection to the deaths of 29-year-old Vu Nguyen, 25-year-old Steven Ogle and 21-year-old Joseph Rovero III, all otherwise healthy men who died in 2009. She was being held on $3 million bail and could face a state prison term of 45 years to life if convicted

District Attorney Steve Cooley said in a written statement that the case highlights the problem of patients who "die while the doctor gets rich."

In addition to the murder charges, Tseng is charged with 21 other felony counts, including four involving undercover DEA agents, alleging she prescribed drugs using fraud and without a legitimate purpose. She is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday.

View CBS News In