An Irvine doctor suspected of prescribing opioids and other powerful narcotics to people without medical exams — including a man accused in a DUI crash that killed an off-duty Costa Mesa fire captain — was arrested Tuesday morning, authorities said.
Dzung Ahn Pham, a 57-year-old Tustin resident who owns Irvine Village Urgent Care, was issuing “an extremely high amount” of prescriptions to drug addicts or people who sold drugs on the black market over a three-year period, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. He faces two charges of illegally distributing oxycodone.
The criminal complaint comes after an undercover operation over the summer in which an investigator easily obtained narcotics from the doctor, including an opioid, a benzodiazepine and carisoprodol, drugs known as a “triple threat” or the “Holy Trinity,” prosecutors said.
Authorities said that, from 2014 to 2017, at least five people who received drugs from Pham died of overdoses.
Investigators found the doctor’s “patients” asked for specific quantities of certain drugs. At least 84 people had their prescriptions filled on the same day or within the next two days of their requests, sent via text message, according to an affidavit filed in the case.
Investigators also found a CVS pharmacy in Irvine stopped accepting prescriptions from Pham more than five years ago after he could not justify the number of pills he was prescribing.
Pham is accused of prescribing drugs that ended up in the hands of Ian David Long, the 28-year-old Newbury Park resident who killed 12 people in a shooting in Thousand Oaks last month.
Pham “expressed concern after receiving information that the individual who fatally shot 12 people last month at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks had in his possession prescriptions for someone else, but which Pham had prescribed,” court documents show.
Investigators also say Stephen Taylor Scarpa, who was charged with murder in connection with a DUI crash that killed Costa Mesa Fire Capt. Mike Kreza, was under the influence of drugs prescribed by Pham when his van struck and fatally injured Kreza, who was riding his bicycle at the time.
Pham deposited more than $5 million in a bank account shared with his wife between 2013 and 2018, the complaint says.
If convicted, Pham would face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
Neither Pham nor his lawyer was immediately available for comment Tuesday.