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.
LA MIRADA — An off-duty law enforcement officer was hospitalized Sunday after accidentally shooting himself in the leg, authorities said.
The incident took place shortly after 1:30 p.m. as the man was driving his car on Valley View Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Beggs said.
The injured man, an off-duty law enforcement officer in his 20s, was stopped at a red light at Rosecrans Ave., when the accidental discharge took place, Lt. Kevin Beggs said.
He was moving the handgun from one place to another within the vehicle when it went off, striking him in the leg, the lieutenant said. The off-duty officer was expected to be OK.
The investigation was being handled by detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
Beggs declined to say what law enforcement agency the off-duty officer worked for, deferring further inquiries to homicide bureau detectives.
LOS ANGELES >> A doctor from La Mirada surrendered to federal authorities Thursday after being indicted on charges of illegally prescribing powerful painkillers and other drugs and laundering the proceeds from the illicit sales, authorities said.
Andrew Sun, 78, turned himself in at the United States Courthouse in Los Angeles, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. A federal grand jury returned an indictment on March 18 charging him with 24 counts of illegally prescribing controlled substances, as well as four counts of money laundering.
Sun operated medical clinics in San Gabriel and East Los Angeles, according to federal officials.
“Sun prescribed drugs, including hydrocodone, to undercover agents on 13 separate occasions, each time in exchange for $150 cash,” Mrozek said.
The prescriptions were written between July of 2011 and April of 2012, according to the federal indictment.
In once instance, “Sun encouraged an undercover agent to provide a fraudulent justification for the ‘maximum’ allowable number of extra-strength Vicodin pills,” Mrozek said.
Other drugs allegedly prescribed illegally by the doctor include Xanax, Soma, Valium and cough syrup containing promethazine and codeine.
The indictment alleges that Sun prescribed the powerful drugs, “while acting and intending to act outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.”
Investigators noted that between mid-2009 and mid-2010, Sun issued nearly 5,000 prescriptions for controlled substances.
In addition to illegally selling drugs, “The indictment also charges Sun with four counts of laundering the proceeds generated by his illegal prescriptions,” Mrozek said. “The indictment charges Sun with laundering cash on four specific occasions when he deposited thousands of dollars in cash on dates that undercover agents met with him and received prescriptions,” Mrozek said.
The indictment lists $16,950 in allegedly laundered funds, which were deposited between July of 2011 and March of 2012.
While looking into the doctor, IRS investigators determined Sun and his wife controlled 44 bank accounts, and Sun had deposited more than $1.1 million in cash into the accounts between 2008 and 2012, according to the DOJ officials.
After pleading not guilty to all 28 charges, Sun was released from custody on a $500,000 bond, Mrozek said. A trial date was scheduled for May 27.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the IRS, the California Medical Board, the California Department of Health Care Services and the Monterey Park Police Department took part in the investigation.
Sun’s medical license has been suspended since late 2013 and he is barred from practicing medicine, according to a California Department of Consumer Affairs database.
He was first licensed to practice medicine in 1967 after graduating Harvard Medical School in 1966, records show.
If convicted as charged, Sun faces up to 248 years in federal prison, officials said.
FULLERTON >> A La Mirada woman accused of molesting three boys she met through the Fullerton junior high school where she taught math pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 10 felony charges, authorities said.
At at arraignment hearing in Orange County Superior Court, Melissa Nicole Lindgren denied five charges of committing lewd acts on a child, two counts of committing lewd acts on a child under 14 and three counts of distributing pornography to a minor, Orange County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Roxi Fyad said. She is also accused of the special allegation of lewd acts on multiple children, which could increase her sentence if convicted.
Lindgren, who remained free on a $100,000 bond, was ordered to return to court June 13 for a pretrial hearing, Fyad said.
She is accused of molesting and trading explicit text messages with three boys, ages 13 to 15, that she met while teaching math at Nicolas Junior High School in Fullerton,
She was reportedly placed on leave from the Fullerton School Disstrict at the outset of the investigation.
The alleged crimes took place during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement. She’s accused of molesting two of the boys in a school classroom, and the third off-campus while the two met in a car.
Lindgren traded sexually explicit messages with the three boys, prosecutors allege. She was arrested Feb. 21.
If convicted as charged, Lindgren faces up to 16 years and 4 months in state prison.
LA MIRADA — A big rig that crashed and erupted into flames forced the closure of all but one lane of the northbound 5 Freeway in La Mirada early Sunday, officials said.
The driver escaped unharmed following the 2 a.m. crash on the freeway near Valley View Avenue, California Highway Patrol Officer Tony Polizzi said.
But the crash created a fiery wreck that snarled traffic for more than nine hours, officials said.
The big rig, which was believed to be the only vehicle involved in the crash, struck and damaged a 100-foot length of guardrail before catching fire, Polizzi said. Officials reported diesel fuel leaking into the roadway as well.
After firefighters initially extinguished the flames, the scorched truck rekindled shortly after 4:30 a.m., according to CHP logs.
All but the fast lane of the northbound 5 Freeway was shut down at Valley View Avenue as officials cleared the wreckage and made repairs to the damaged guardrail, Polizzi said. The No. 2 lane was reopened just before 11 a.m.
No estimate of when the two right lanes of the freeway would reopen was available.
LA MIRADA — Deputies arrested two alleged drunken drivers during a checkpoint late Saturday and early Sunday, authorities said.
The checkpoint was held from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Imperial Highway at Santa Gertrudes Avenue, officials from the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Norwalk Station said in a written statement.
Of the more than 1,500 cars that passed through the checkpoint, deputies screened 1,281 drivers.
In addition to the two drunken driving arrests, deputies arrested five people for driving on suspended or revoked licenses and seven people for driving without licenses, according to the sheriff’s department statement.
Four vehicles were impounded for 30 days during the checkpoint, and seven vehicles were stored for one day, officials said. Three cars were released to license drivers during the checkpoint.
Deputies at the neighboring sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station also held a checkpoint Saturday night, the Whittier Police Department held one late Friday. Results from those checkpoints were not available Sunday.
LA MIRADA — Homicide detectives are investigating the fatal shooting of a man in a residential neighborhood early Sunday.
The shooting was first reported just after 12:40 a.m. in the 13400 block of Bona Vista Lane, Deputy Mark Pope of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
“The victim was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead,” Pope said.
Deputies initially responded to a report of a shooting in which bullets penetrated a family’s home, Lt. Eric Smitson of the sheriff’s Norwalk Station said.
As deputies were talking to residents and checking the area for possible suspects, they were notified by Whittier police that a man had arrived at the emergency room of PIH Health Hospital in Whittier, Smitson said.
The man, whose identity was not available, died at the hospital a short time later, officials said. It was unclear who brought him to the hospital. Coroner’s officials described him as a man appearing to be in his 20s.
No information regarding the shooter or shooters was available.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously through L.A. Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
LA MIRADA — A man was hospitalized with severe burns after he caught fire while igniting a fire in a fireplace, authorities said.
The 82-year-old man’s wife used a kitchen pan to douse the flames with water before firefighters rushed him to a burn center with third-degree burns over about 50 percent of his body, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Greg Lombardo said.
The woman was taken to a hospital, estimated to be in her late-70s, appeared unharmed but was taken to a hospital as a precaution, officials said.
Officials first responded to the fire about 12:35 p.m. in the 13000 block of Gandara Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Jason Skeen said.
The man had been trying to light a fire in the fireplace when items nearby caught fire, as well as the man’s clothing, Lombardo said.
His wife, who was in the backyard at the time, came into the home. “He was on fire when she found him,” Skeen said.
The woman grabbed a kitchen pan and used to douse the fire, which was all-but-extinguished when firefighters arrived, Lombardo said.
Firefighters rushed the badly injured man to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center for treatment.
The fire was determined to be accidental in nature, Lombardo said.
LA MIRADA — Deputies arrested to driver’s accused of driving under the influence of marijuana during a DUI checkpoint late Saturday and early Sunday, officials said.
Officials screened all 1,768 drivers of the vehicles that passed through the checkpoint, held on Imperial Highway just east of Valley View Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
In addition to the two DUI arrests, five drivers with suspended or revoked licenses were arrested, along with seven unlicensed drivers, officials said.
Nine vehicles were impounded for one day, five vehicles were impounded for 30 days, and 10 vehicles were released to to other drivers per checkpoint procedures, officials added.
Sheriff’s officials are planning to screen drivers for sobriety and valid drivers’ licenses during checkpoints Friday and Saturday in Pico Rivera and La Mirada, authorities said.
Deputies from the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station are planning a checkpoint from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within Pico Rivera, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Deputies from the sheriff’s Norwalk Station are planning another checkpoint from 7 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday at an undisclosed location within La Mirada, officials added.
The checkpoints are being funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.