Orange County doctor to plead guilty to illegally prescribing drugs

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - An Orange County physician is expected to plead guilty today to illegally distributing opioids, including some prescribed to a man convicted of running over and killing an off-duty Costa Mesa fire captain riding his bicycle in Mission Viejo.

Dr. Dzung Anh Pham of Tustin, who owned Irvine Village Urgent Care, has agreed to enter his plea to a federal charge of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

Pham and co-defendant Jennifer Nguyen, a pharmacist, allegedly conspired to distribute narcotics such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and amphetamine salts, prosecutors said in the plea agreement filed in Los Angeles federal court.

"As defendant knew many pharmacies would not fill his prescriptions, he would direct his patients to co-defendant Nguyen and Bristol Pharmacy to fill the prescriptions," prosecutors wrote.

In November and December of 2017, Pham issued prescriptions to one client, a known addict, for hundreds of pills of oxycodone, prosecutors said. He also wrote prescriptions for the client's spouse though he never evaluated her, prosecutors allege.

The plea agreement also lists 18 other clients, and stated that between January 2013 and December 2018, he wrote prescriptions for a total of approximately 53,693 pills of oxycodone, 68,795 pills of hydrocodone, and 29,286 pills of amphetamine salts.

When Pham was charged in 2018, prosecutors said five people who received prescriptions from the doctor died of overdoses.

Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 29, who was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of 44-year-old Costa Mesa Fire Department Capt. Mike Kreza, was one of Pham's customers, prosecutors said. Scarpa was high when his van struck Kreza in November 2018. Prescription bottles with Pham's name on them were found in Scarpa's vehicle after the collision, according to authorities.

Scarpa was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison in December.

Federal authorities also contend that Pham sent a text message expressing concern that Borderline Bar and Grill mass killer David Ian Long had prescription drugs in his possession that Pham had prescribed for someone else. Twelve people were killed in the Nov. 7, 2018, massacre inside a Thousand Oaks bar before Long fatally shot himself.

Nguyen is expected to plead guilty to her role in the case on Oct. 14.

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