San Jose physician convicted of 12 counts of illegally prescribing and distributing opioids

A San Jose doctor was convicted of illegally prescribing and distributing giant portions of opioids with out a reputable medical function, together with to at least one one who died of an overdose, federal prosecutors introduced Friday.

Donald Siao, 58, a household doctor, was convicted by a federal jury on Tuesday of 12 counts of distributing the managed substances oxycodone and hydrocodone exterior the standard course of his medical apply over a 12-month interval between 2016 and 2017, prosecutors with the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace mentioned in a information launch.

After figuring out Siao in a separate prescription fraud investigation, investigators found Siao had written 8,201 prescriptions for managed substance drugs in simply the one-year interval from Might 2016 to Might 2017, in response to prosecutors. Throughout the course of the investigation, Siao prescribed rising quantities of opioids to 4 separate undercover brokers posing as sufferers, regardless that in some situations they admitted to sharing the medication with co-workers or pals.

Every of the 12 counts in opposition to Siao carries a most sentence of 20 years in jail. Ismail J. Ramsey, the U.S. legal professional for the Northern District of California, introduced on Friday he would search to have Siao’s medical license forfeited.

Calls to the U.S. Lawyer’s workplace and to Siao’s lawyer weren’t instantly returned.

Eight of the 12 counts in opposition to Siao concerned a mom and son recognized in courtroom paperwork as E.J. and A.J., respectively.

Each mom and son claimed to have misplaced or had tablets stolen and Siao continued to reply with prescriptions, in response to courtroom paperwork.

Siao additionally ignored a warning from an insurer about potential fraud relating to E.J. and a discover that A.J. had beforehand been arrested for promoting tablets, prosecutors mentioned within the information launch.

A.J. overdosed twice however nonetheless obtained prescriptions from Siao, in response to courtroom paperwork. A.J. died from an overdose of opioids in December 2019. As well as, Siao didn’t adjust to medical information requests from the coroner following A.J.’s demise.

The final 4 counts in opposition to Siao had been associated to an operation performed by an undercover interagency process drive.

The California Division of Justice Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse, or BMFEA, was one in every of a number of businesses investigating Siao in 2017, in response to courtroom paperwork. In Might of that 12 months, the company searched a state managed substance database and located that Siao had written greater than 8,000 prescriptions for managed substances.

Lots of these prescriptions known as for 30 milligrams of oxycodone, which is on the larger finish of dosage power. The Nationwide Library of Medication states, for example, that immediate-release oxycodone tablets start at 5 mg and prime out at 30.

Together with oxycodone, Siao issued prescriptions for mixtures of opioids, muscle relaxers and benzodiazepine, typically often known as the “Holy Trinity,” in response to courtroom paperwork. The Division of Justice has mentioned the trio taken collectively “depress the central nervous system and the power to breathe.”

The drug process drive performed an investigation from February to Might 2018. 4 brokers visited Siao’s workplace a number of instances to request prescriptions for managed substances.

In a single case, one agent often known as A.M. pretended to be a retired soccer participant who complained of ache in his shoulder, arm and elbow. He noticed Siao 3 times, with every go to ending with a prescription.

In his third appointment with Siao in July 2018, A.M. admitted he had shared a portion of a earlier 60-tablet, 30-mg power oxycodone dosage, a probably addictive managed substance used for ache administration, with a co-worker. The agent requested if Siao might enhance the quantity of tablets to compensate for the borrowed cache.

Siao obliged and elevated the overall to 75 tablets at an appointment that lasted roughly two minutes, in response to courtroom paperwork.

One other agent, recognized solely as E.T. in courtroom paperwork, sought Siao for a prescription of Norco, a mixture of hydrocodone and acetaminophen used for ache administration.

The agent mentioned he had beforehand bought Norco at work for $10 a tablet. Siao mentioned, “That’s nuts,” in response to courtroom paperwork. The physician then added, “I’m not going to say something. Some folks attempt to make a enterprise out of that; put it that approach.”

The doctor then prescribed 45 tablets of 10-mg power after a primary go to in April 2018, in response to courtroom paperwork.

Siao ultimately elevated the quantity to 60 tablets upon E.T.’s second go to, prosecutors mentioned. He additionally prescribed a cannabinoid, Marinol, on the agent’s request. The agent informed Siao he was a marijuana consumer and wanted to point out his employer that any hashish present in his blood stream by means of random testing was as a result of one other drug.

Siao replied “gotcha” and crammed out the prescription, prosecutors mentioned.

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