A Clairemont physician will face a preliminary hearing Aug. 7 on charges that he sold customers prescriptions for an assortment of narcotic drugs, including some as potent as heroin, authorities said Monday.
Dr. Thomas Dosumu-Johnson, 43, pleaded innocent Monday in Municipal Court to charges he used his medical practice as a front to sell prescriptions for powerful narcotic drugs to patients who did not need such medication, said Deputy Dist. Atty. George Bennett.
Dosumu-Johnson was arrested last Friday after a 2 1/2-month investigation by the state's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and other agencies, said Philip Donohue, a special agent in the bureau's San Diego office.
"We have encountered this kind of thing before," Donohue said. "There are members of the medical profession who don't play by the rules. . . . But his crimes were as blatant as any that we've uncovered."
Dosumu-Johnson is charged with 12 counts of improperly prescribing narcotics and could face five years in prison for each count, Donohue said.
Investigators said Dosumu-Johnson was born in Liberia and earned his medical degree in Guadalajara, Mexico. He had been practicing in Southern California for about seven years, Donohue added.
Undercover agents allegedly visited Dosumu-Johnson six times, and during those visits the doctor offered to sell them prescriptions for several types of painkillers and stimulant drugs, Bennett said.
Among the drugs Dosumu-Johnson reportedly prescribed were Valium, amphetamines, methadone and Dilaudid, Donohue said.
Methadone is a drug commonly used to treat heroin addicts, and Dilaudid is a painkiller known colloquially as "drugstore heroin," Donohue said.
"If given a choice, a heroin addict would take Dilaudid over heroin," Donohue said. "It's just as potent, and it's purer."
A single tablet of Dilaudid sells on the street for $20 to $25, Bennett said, saying that Dosumu-Johnson allegedly offered to sell prescriptions for more than 4,200 pills to the undercover agents.
Besides being accused of prescribing specific drugs, Dosumu-Johnson also sold blank prescriptions for as much as $200, Donohue said. Such blank prescriptions, which must be filled out in triplicate for more powerful drugs, can fetch a street value of up to $350, Donohue said.
In addition to the criminal charges, Dosumu-Johnson could also lose his medical license. Linda McCerady, a spokeswoman for the state medical board, said Dosumu-Johnson would probably face a disciplinary hearing if convicted.
"We can take the license away for a criminal conviction," McCerady said. "If he's convicted, his chances of keeping his license are pretty slim."