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Irvine doctor agrees to plead guilty to illegally prescribing drugs

The Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse.
An Irvine physician agreed in federal court Wednesday to plead guilty to illegally distributing opioids, including some prescribed to a man convicted of running over and killing an off-duty Costa Mesa fire captain riding his bicycle in Mission Viejo.
(Meghann Cuniff)

An Irvine physician agreed in federal court Wednesday to plead guilty to illegally distributing opioids, including some prescribed to a man convicted of running over and killing an off-duty Costa Mesa fire captain riding his bicycle in Mission Viejo.

Dr. Dzung Anh Pham of Tustin, who owned Irvine Village Urgent Care at 15435 Jeffrey Road, agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

Pham and co-defendant Jennifer Nguyen, a pharmacist, allegedly conspired to distribute narcotics such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and amphetamine salts, prosecutors said in the plea agreement.

“As defendant knew many pharmacies would not fill his prescriptions, he would direct his patients to co-defendant Nguyen and Bristol Pharmacy to fill the prescriptions,” prosecutors said in the plea deal.

In November and December of 2017 he issued prescriptions to one client, a known addict, for hundreds of pills of oxycodone, prosecutors said. He also wrote prescriptions for the client’s spouse though he never evaluated her, prosecutors said.

The plea agreement also lists 18 other clients.

“Between Jan. 1, 2013, and Dec. 17, 2018, defendant wrote prescriptions for a total of approximately 53,693 pills of oxycodone, approximately 68,795 pills of hydrocodone, and approximately 29,286 pills of amphetamine salts,’' prosecutors said in the plea agreement.

When Pham was charged in 2018, prosecutors said five people who received prescriptions from the doctor died of overdoses.

Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 29, who was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of 44-year-old Costa Mesa Fire Department Capt. Mike Kreza, was one of Pham’s customers, prosecutors said. Scarpa was high when his van struck Kreza in November 2018. Prescription bottles with Pham’s name on them were found in Scarpa’s vehicle after the collision, according to authorities.

Costa Mesa fire Capt. Mike Kreza, pictured with his family
Costa Mesa Fire Department Capt. Mike Kreza, pictured with his family, died in after being hit by a van while riding his bicycle in Mission Viejo. The man found guilty in his death was prescribed illegal drugs by Dr. Dzung Anh Pham.
(Courtesy of Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Department)

Scarpa was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison in December.

Federal authorities also contended that Pham sent a text message expressing concern that Borderline Bar and Grill mass killer David Ian Long had prescription drugs in his possession that Pham had prescribed for someone else. Twelve people were killed in the Nov. 7, 2018, massacre inside a Thousand Oaks bar before Long fatally shot himself.

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