Fifteen people, including a doctor and a pharmacist from Huntington Beach, are facing charges of defrauding insurance companies of more than $100 million by mass-producing, distributing and prescribing an expensive toxic medication.
Three of the accused also are charged with manslaughter after a baby boy died as a result of exposure to the cream, the Orange County district attorney's office said.
Pharmacist Curtis William Hague, 42, Dr. Rahil Rashid Khan, 46, and the other defendants were scheduled to be arraigned last week, but the proceeding was postponed until September, said Assistant District Atty. Scott Zidbeck.
"It's not unusual for a case of this depth or complexity," he said.
The Orange County Grand Jury indicted the defendants in June. They are facing sentences ranging from probation to up to 14 years in state prison if convicted, according to the district attorney's office.
Hague was charged with one count each of filing a fraudulent claim and filing a written insurance fraud claim. He was released on $100,000 bail, according to the office.
Khan was charged with one count of receiving kickbacks for patient referrals, two counts of insurance fraud and one count of filing a fraudulent claim. He was released on $600,000 bail.
Defendant Kareem Ahmed, 45, a medical-business owner from Rancho Cucamonga, is accused of working to create three topical pain-relief creams with what the district attorney's office called unsafe amounts of tramadol, dextromethorphan and amitriptyline.
In June 2010, Hague opened Curt's Compounding Pharmacy in Fountain Valley, where he would be producing the cream solely for Ahmed, according to the district attorney's office.
Authorities said Hague sold more than 145,000 tubes of cream to Ahmed for more than $8 million. Hague is accused of illegally mass-producing the cream without a manufacturing license from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Ahmed reportedly billed insurance companies $1,200 to $1,900 for each cream prescribed to patients. He is accused of fraudulently receiving more than $105 million from the companies between June 2010 and December 2013.
He also is accused of paying several doctors, including Khan, to prescribe the cream. Khan received more than $1.1 million from Ahmed, according to the district attorney's office.
Ahmed, Whittier pharmacist Michael Rudolph, 64, and Fullerton doctor Andrew Jarminski, 51, are charged with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter in the February 2012 death of a baby from drug intoxication after his mother fed him without washing her hands after she applied the cream to her ailing knee.