A doctor who prescribed pills to the driver suspected of hitting and killing Costa Mesa fire Capt. Mike Kreza while under the influence of drugs was arrested by federal authorities Tuesday, prosecutors said.
Special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration arrested Dr. Dzung Ahn Pham, 57, who owns Irvine Village Urgent Care in Irvine. He faces federal charges on allegations that he distributed opioids and other narcotics to people without medical examinations.
At least five people who received and filled prescriptions written by Pham died of drug overdoses from 2014 to 2017, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Santa Ana.
Text messages by Pham also showed he had received information that the shooter who killed 12 people at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks on Nov. 7 was in possession of prescriptions Pham had written for someone else, according to the complaint.
Pham was charged with two counts of illegally distributing oxycodone. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison.
Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 25, of Mission Viejo, who has been charged with murder in Kreza’s death, is suspected of being under the influence of drugs when the van he was driving hit and fatally injured Kreza while he was cycling off duty Nov. 3 in Mission Viejo. Scarpa was found with pills prescribed by Pham, prosecutors said.
Pham is a detoxification doctor, meaning he can prescribe controlled narcotics for use in addiction treatment or detox.
A review of a state-maintained database of controlled-substance prescriptions showed Pham issued “an extremely high amount” of such prescriptions, according to a report by Dr. Timothy Munzing.
Pham prescribed more than 1.23 million pills to about 2,400 different patients between 2014 and 2017, according to the complaint.
At least one Irvine pharmacy stopped filling prescriptions written by Pham when the doctor could not explain the high number of pills he was prescribing to individual patients, the complaint said.
“This case clearly and tragically illustrates the dangers of drug dealers armed with prescription pads,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement. “This doctor is accused of flooding Southern California with huge quantities of opioids and other dangerous narcotics by writing prescriptions for drugs he knew would be diverted to the street.”
Some of the drugs requested were adderall, oxycodone, tramadol, suboxone, norco, soma, alprazolam and hydrocodone bitartrate-acetaminophen, also known as Vicodin.