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Doctor accused of issuing thousands of illegal drug prescriptions

A San Gabriel Valley doctor pleaded not guilty Thursday to writing thousands of illegal prescriptions for powerful painkillers.
(Glenn Asakawa / Getty Images)

A San Gabriel Valley doctor pleaded not guilty Thursday to writing thousands of illegal prescriptions for powerful painkillers during late-night weekend visits and then laundering the money he received in exchange.

Daniel Cham, 47, was arrested earlier this week at his home in Covina after he was named in a 31-count indictment alleging he intentionally wrote more than 42,000 prescriptions for patients between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. on the weekends since 2010, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

“Unscrupulous doctors who prescribe controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose are simply fueling a black market of narcotics,” acting U.S. Atty. Stephanie Yonekura said in a statement. “These doctors are the same as street dealers who face lengthy sentences in federal prison.”

Cham mostly wrote prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone, alprazolam and carisoprodol at various locations, including his offices in La Puente and Artesia, prosecutors said. He issued post-dated prescriptions to appear as though they were written on weekdays.

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In one instance, Cham wrote prescriptions for painkillers for an undercover officer in exchange for cash or money orders, according to the U.S. attorney. Another undercover officer was allegedly issued a prescription even after he presented a written notice that his license had been suspended for driving under the influence.

One undercover operative told authorities that he was “high and drunk” when he received prescriptions from Cham.

Cham allegedly used four bank accounts to launder his money earned from the illegal operation, prosecutors said.

“Daniel Cham’s arrest sends a clear message to doctors who violate their sworn public duty by selling prescriptions for highly addictive opioids – the DEA will shut down your operation and put you behind bars,” said Anthony D. Williams, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Adminstration’s Los Angeles field division.

If Cham posts $140,000 bail, he’ll be allowed to serve home detention. Cham, however, will not be allowed to practice medicine.

For breaking news in Los Angeles and throughout California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA. She can be reached at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.


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