Dzung Ahn Pham is a Southern California doctor who, police say, helped to flood the streets with deadly drugs. Prosecutors in California say Pham wrote prescriptions providing narcotics to people even though he knew that they were drug addicts and dealers. Authorities also say they can link him to at least five overdoses over the past four years.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Prosecutors Say Pham May Have Indirectly Supplied Drugs to Ian David Long, the Gunman Who Killed 12 People at the Borderline Bar & Grill
The mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill took place on November 7. Afterward, Pham sent a text message to someone, expressing concern that he had indirectly helped to get the gunman drugs. Pham’s text message makes it clear that he didn’t mean to supply drugs to the gunman. But it also shows how little control the doctor had over where the drugs he prescribed ended up.
His text message, obtained by DEA investigators, read, “One of my patient (sic) just told me that the thousand oak shooter, ian david long, had my prescription bottles that belong to some (sic) else. I never saw Mr. Long before, so I dont (sic) know the implication of this information.”
2. Pham Was Arrested by DEA Agents for Illegally Distributing Oxycodone
Pham owns Irvine Village Urgent Care, located at 2500 Alton Parkway, according to the Justice Department. DEA investigators say that he routinely wrote prescriptions to people even though he knew that they were drug dealers or drug addicts who were likely to resell the drugs he prescribed them.
Investigators say that in many cases, Pham wasn’t even making all of his patients come into his office for an examination before prescribing them drugs. At least 84 patients immediately had their prescriptions after they just Pham a text message request, according to court documents. The drugs that Pham prescribed by text message included Adderall, oxycodone, tramadol, suboxone, norco, soma, alprazolam and hydrocodone bitartrate-acetaminophen. Investigators said many of Pham’s patients gave the same address as each other.
One CVS pharmacy stopped accepting prescriptions issued by Pham a few years ago, saying they couldn’t justify the high number of opiates Pham was prescribing to his patients.
3. Pham Has More Than Five Million Dollars in His Personal Bank Account, the DEA Says
DEA investigators say that over the past five years, Pham has deposited more than five million dollars into his personal bank account. They say that in the same time period, he deposited another 1.7 million dollars into a business bank account.
That’s the same time period as Pham was over-prescribing narcotics, according to the prosecutors. The criminal complaint against him says that his prescriptions were often deadly. Between 2014 and 2017, at least five people who filled prescriptions from Pham have died, according to the criminal complaint. Pham himself worried that his drugs may have gotten into the hands of Ian David Long, the gunman in the mass shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill earlier this year.
4. Pham Was Arrested After a Sting Operation Showed How Easy It Was to Get a Prescription for Powerful Drugs
Pham has been the subject of several sting operations since he established his practice in Irvine. Authorities have been asking questions about his activities for years, and one CVS actually stopped accepting his prescriptions.
During this year’s sting operation, an undercover agent working with the DEA managed to “quickly and easily” get prescriptions from Pham for narcotics. Officials said that she managed to get an opiod, a benzodiazepine, and a muscle relaxer — a combination often referred to as a “triple threat.” Pham apparently warned the agent that the local CVS wouldn’t fill the prescription; he told her to go to Bristol Pharmacy in Irvine and ask for “Jennifer N.”
A month later, the same undercover agent came back and told Pham that she was suffering from intense stress, which was making her lower back pain worse. Pham prescribed her two more medications.
5. Pham Could Face 40 Years in Jail if Sentenced
Pham faces charges federal drug trafficking charges for allegedly distributing opiods. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he could face up to 40 years in jail if he is found guilty on all charges. Investigators say they are still looking into his case. The Justice Department says that over the past five years, Pham has sold prescription drugs to drug deals and addicts who turned around and re-sold the drugs on the street.