LOS ANGELES >> A doctor from Covina pleaded not guilty to last week in a 31-count federal drug trafficking case that could land him more than 300 years in prison, authorities said.
Dr. Daniel Cham, 47, entered his plea Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. Department of Justice officials said in a written statement. He posted a $140,000 bond and was ordered to serve home detention pending trial, scheduled for Dec. 16. He is prohibited from practicing medicine in the meantime.
Federal agents arrested Cham Wednesday at his Covina home, officials said. The doctor operated medical offices in La Puente and Artesia.
A federal grand jury returned a 31-count indictment against the doctor in October, however it remained sealed until Cham was arrested.
The indictment alleges Cham distributed powerful painkillers and other drugs to patients, including an undercover investigator, who had no legitimate medical need for them.
Anthony Williams, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Los Angeles Field Office, said federal authorities take a tough stance against doctors who cross into drug dealing.
“Along with our law enforcement partners, we continue to aggressively target medical professionals who act as drug traffickers cloaked in a white lab coat,” Williams said.
If convicted of all 31 counts — which included drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud and making false statements to federal authorities — Cham faces up to 339 years behind bars, according to the DOJ.
“Unscrupulous doctors who prescribe controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose are simply fueling a black market of narcotics,” Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura said. “These doctors are the same as street dealers who face lengthy sentences in federal prison.”
The primary drugs illegally distributed by Cham include oxycodone, also known as OxyContin; hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin or Norco; alprazolam, also known as Xanax; and carisprodol, also known as Soma, officials said.
Cham often saw patients in the middle of the night on weekends, but post-dated prescriptions to make it appear they had been written during the week, according to the DOJ statement.
“In the year that ended in March 2014, Chan issued more than 5,500 prescriptions for controlled substances,” the statement said. “…and he issued more than 42,000 such prescriptions since July 2010.”
An undercover investigator visited Cham’s La Puente office three times and obtained prescriptions for powerful drugs in exchange for $200 to $300 in cash or money orders, prosecutors allege.
Cham issued the prescriptions even though the undercover agent told him he had been, “drunk and high while receiving controlled substance prescriptions,” according to the DOJ statement.
“On another occasion, Cham prescribed oxycodone even though the undercover law enforcement officer presented, in lieu of photo identification, a written notice that his license had been suspended for driving under the influence,” the statement continued.
PASADENA >> The death of a Glendale woman at a Pasadena motel Friday is being investigated as a possible drug overdose, police said.
Cleaning staff called police about 12:35 p.m. after funding a 43-year-old woman unresponsive in her motel room in the 3300 block of East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
Pasadena Fire Department paramedics pronounced the woman dead at the scene, Luna said.
Prescription pills were found in the room, and the death was being investigated as an apparent accidental drug overdose, the lieutenant said.
“Preliminary investigation does not reveal any evidence of foul play,” he said.
The police investigation is ongoing, and the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner will perform an autopsy.
PASADENA >> A traffic stop led to the discovery of about 20 grams of cocaine in Pasadena Saturday afternoon, police said.
Two officers pulled over a car for a traffic violation just after 4 p.m. at Los Robles Avenue and Mountain Street, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
“During the investigation, the officers recovered a quantity of cocaine from the driver,” Luna said. “The officers also recovered a moderate amount of U.S. currency.”
Police arrested the driver, a Pasadena man in his 40s, on suspicion of possession of cocaine for sales, Luna said. Police withheld his name Sunday, citing an active investigation.
LOS ANGELES >> A doctor from La Mirada has been convicted of federal drug trafficking charges for the improper and illegal distribution of powerful painkillers, officials announced Friday.
A federal jury in Los Angeles convicted Dr. Andrew Sun, 78, of 14 counts of distributing controlled substances and three counts of money laundering for concealing the proceeds of his crimes, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. The conviction came after three days of trial.
Sun, who ran clinics in San Gabriel and East Los Angeles, faces up to 157 years in prison when he returns to court for sentencing Nov. 10, officials said.
His medical license was already probationary after he was targeted in a similar investigation in 2004. His license was suspended in late 2013.
Sun was ordered to appear at an Aug. 25 hearing in which the court will determine whether Sun must forfeit almost $350,000 in drug proceeds, officials said.
Sun turned himself in to authorities in April after being indicted by a indicted by a grand jury.
He was convicted of prescribing powerful drugs such as hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin, alprazolam, also known as Xanax, carisprodol, also known as Soma, and promethezine with codeine, which is used to make the street drug known as “purple drank” or “sizzurp.”
Through an undercover sting operation, investigators determined Sun “profited by prescribing addictive painkillers and other controlled substances to persons whom he believed were drug addicts, and thus that the defendant acted without lawful medical purpose,” according to court documents.
The doctor issues more than 24,000 for controlled substances, netting $1 million in cash between 2009 and 2012, according to the DOJ.
When undercover agents visited Sun seeking drugs, “Sun failed to conduct any physical examination and he sold prescriptions for $150 in cash — even when he believed he was writing the prescriptions for drug addicts,” Mrozek said.
The investigation was carried out by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the IRS, the California Department of Health Care Services and the Monterey Park Police Department.
SOUTH EL MONTE >> Deputies made 67 arrests Saturday during the first day of the two-day HARD Summer 2014 music festival taking place at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, authorities said.
About 40,000 people were estimated to have attended the first day of the rave-style electronic music festival, with similar attendance expected Sunday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Of the 67 arrests made Saturday, 60 were for fake identification cards, sheriff’s Deputy Johnny Jones said.
Six people were arrested on suspicion of selling drugs, Jones said.
And one person was arrested Saturday on suspicion of robbery after stealing an event staff shirt from the back of a worker, Jones said. The suspect was apprehended following the crime, which was apparently committed in an effort to sneak into the festival.
Statistics were not available for Sunday as the concert continued, but Jones noted there had been “a few” arrests.
PHOTO – Deputies watch over the HARD Summer 2014 music festival from their command post at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area in South El Monte. (Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)
LOS ANGELES — Federal authorities Wednesday arrested 18 El Monte Flores gang members and associates who used the former offices of the Boys & Girls Club as their hangout.
The 18 were among 41 people indicted by a federal grand jury last week on charges that include conspiracy, murder, drug trafficking, money laundering, and weapons violations.
Federal officials said the gang conducted illegal activities out of the Boys & Girls Club of America/San Gabriel Valley Club facilities on Mountain View Road.
“They used the club as a place where they would openly sell drugs and collect taxes,” said Vijay Rathi, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The gang also used the club, which recently held community meetings and hosted a car wash fundraiser for a Flores member who was murdered.
“It is very disturbing that a facility that is supposed to give boys and girls protection and a safe place could be used for that,” Mayor Andrew Quintero said.
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LOS ANGELES — A doctor from La Mirada who ran clinics in San Gabriel and East Los Angeles pleaded guilty Thursday to illegally prescribing painkillers and money laundering, officials announced.
Andrew Sun, 78, agreed to plead guilty to one count of distribution of hydrocodone and one count of money laundering, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. The powerful painkiller hydrocodone is better known by it’s brand name, Vicodin.
He surrendered to authorities April 10 after being indicted on 24 charges related to drug distribution and money laundering.
Though he pleaded guilty only to money laundering and illegally prescribing hydrocodone, “(Sun) admits in his plea agreement that he also illegally prescribed and distributed other drugs, including those best known by the brand names Xanax and Soma,” Mrozek said.
The improper prescriptions issued to undercover investigators between 2011 and 2012, “outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose,” he said.
The doctor further admitted accepting $554,070 in cash payments for the drugs, which he deposited into a personal bank account, “for the purpose of disguising the source and nature of the funds,” according to Mrozek.
Under the plea arrangement, Sun agreed to forfeit $342,000 that was seized from his bank account in July of 2012, officials added. He also agreed to pay nearly $87,000 in restitution to the California Medical Board, which participated in the investigation along with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the IRS, the California Department of Health Services and the Monterey Park Police Department.
Sun’s medical license was suspended in 2013, according to a California Department of Consumer Affairs database.
SOUTH EL MONTE — Deputies seized more than two pounds of what was believed to be cocaine and arrested three men, including one who ran, after pulling over a car in South El Monte late Friday, authorities said.
The incident unfolded about 10 p.m. when deputies stopped a car in the area of Peck Road and Michael Hunt Drive, Sgt. A. Ben-Sahile of the sheriff’s Temple Station said.
One of the three men inside the car ran from the vehicle, initiating a search that lasted about an hour before the fleeing suspect was found hiding under a car in a nearby driveway, officials said.
The two other men who remained in the car were also arrested after deputies discovered a kilogram of a substance suspected to be cocaine — with a street value of about $30,000 — in the trunk of the car, Ben-Sahile said. The substance was to be tested to confirm its composition.
Detectives withheld the suspects’ identities Saturday as they continued their investigation, he said. They were described as Northern California men ranging from 30 to 50 years old.
Sheriff’s officials raided an Altadena home Thursday, arresting four people and seizing 50 marijuana plants, methamphetamine, two guns and suspected stolen property, authorities said Friday.
Arrested were Christopher Mesa, 26, on suspicion of cultivating marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale; Stephen Mesa, 36, on suspicion of being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm, possession of methamphetamine and receiving stolen property; Jeffrey Ortiz, 29, on suspicion of receiving stolen property, as well as on outstanding narcotics warrants; and Lucero Rodriguez, 23, on suspicion of receiving stolen property and possession of marijuana, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Members of the sheriff’s Altadena Station’s Summer Violent Crime Enforcement Program and the Sheriff’s Narcotics Bureau carried out a search warrant about 9 p.m. Thursday at a home in the 500 block of West Palm Street, according to sheriff’s officials and county booking records.
“Upon execution of the search warrant, detectives recovered more than 50 live marijuana plants being grown inside the house by an elaborate artificial growing system,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “Detectives also recovered two firearms, methamphetamine, and a large amount of items believed to be stolen, such as laptops and other electronic equipment.”
The four suspects were scheduled to appear for arraignment Monday in the Los Angeles Superior Court, Pasadena Branch.
PASADENA >> Police arrested a probationer Saturday in a Pasadena parking lot after finding marijuana, methamphetamine and documents believed to have been stolen from at least a dozen people in his car, officials said.
Timothy Jerome Fisher, 33, of Pasadena was arrested on suspicion of drug possession as detectives continued investigating how he came to obtain the checks, bank cards and other documents of a dozen or more other people, according to Pasadena police and Los Angeles County booking records.
He was taken into custody just after 2:30 p.m. in the larking lot of CVS Pharmacy, 900 N. Lake Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
Officers were on foot patrol in the lot when they spotted Fisher sitting in a car parked behind the store, Clawson said.
“They noticed marijuana in the driver’s door panel,” he said. “Upon a further consent search of the car, officers found two grams of methamphetamine and paraphernalia.”
Also found in the car were the documents in the names of other people, Clawson said. Police had contacted two of the potential victims Sunday, and both reported have their documents stolen in car break-ins.
The investigation was ongoing.
Booking records indicated Fisher was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance.