An Orange County doctor has been arrested on suspicion of illegally selling powerful opioids to a man who is suspected in a DUI crash that killed a Costa Mesa fire captain, as well as selling powerful narcotics to five people who went on to fatally overdose, local officials with the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
Dr. Dzung Ahn Pham, 57, faces federal charges and two counts of illegally distributing oxycodone and issuing prescriptions for controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.
According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, the doctor, who owns Irvine Village Urgent Care, was selling prescriptions to “patients” who were drug addicts and/or were selling the drugs on the black market. Also, at least five people who received and filled prescriptions from Pham died of drug overdoses from 2014 through 2017, the affidavit stated.
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.
Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 25, of Mission Viejo, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 44-year-old Costa Mesa fire Capt. Mike Kreza, was allegedly high on drugs from Pham at the time of the deadly collision on Nov. 3. Prescription bottles with Pham’s name on them were found in Scarpa’s van after the collision, according to a DEA affidavit.
The doctor would charge between $100 and $150 per office visit to the clinic he owned. Between 2013 and September 2018, Pham deposited over $5 million in cash, into bank accounts held by him and his wife. He also approximately deposited $1.7 million into business bank accounts that investigators suspect came from insurance payments.
A CVS pharmacy stopped accepting prescriptions from Pham more than five years ago after the pharmacy could not justify the number of opioid pills the doctor was prescribing, the Justice Department release states.
Pham made his first federal court appearance Tuesday afternoon in Santa Ana and faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison if convicted.