Friday, November 20, 2009

California Doctor Sentenced To Nearly 5 Years In Prison For Writing Controlled Substance Prescriptions For Cash

On November 16, 2009, Vu Le, a physician who operated a medical clinic in Westminster was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for illegally writing prescriptions for “patients” who paid cash for painkiller prescriptions for people he did not examine. Dr. Vu Le had faced a statutory maximum sentence of 135 years imprisonment and possible fines of $6,750,000. Dr. Le, who is 46 years old, was sentenced by United States District Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana, California.

This sentence followed a guilty plea in June 2009 to all 15 felony counts contained in an indictment that accused him of charging up to $150 to write prescriptions for painkillers. Most of the prescriptions were for Oxycodone (sold in various forms, including the brand name OxyContin) and the painkiller Hydrocodone (available in various forms, including the brand name Vicodin).

When he pleaded guilty, Dr. Le admitted that in 2005 and 2006 he provided prescriptions to persons seeking controlled substances without a legitimate medical reason in exchange for cash payment. These individuals came to Dr. Le's medical office in Westminster and paid $150 in cash to be seen by the doctor. After claiming that they had pain and needed medication, Dr. Le prescribed controlled substances, usually Hydrocodone (a Schedule III controlled substance) and Oxycodone (a Schedule II controlled substance). Le wrote the prescritions without examination, without referral slips and without any other documentation showing a legitimate medical reason for the prescription.

As part of the investigation into Dr. Le, special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted undercover operations in which they posed as individuals seeking controlled substances. During the undercover meetings, Dr. Le did not examine the undercover agents, nor did he take a thorough medical history from them. Instead, he simply wrote prescriptions for Oxycondone and Hydrocodone in a manner that he admitted was outside the usual course of professional practice.

After his arrest in December 2006, Dr. Le told the DEA that 70 percent of his total revenue came from his “pain management” and that he made approximately $50,000 a month from his practice.

Any questions or comments should be directed to: Tracy Green is a principal at Green & Associates in Los Angeles, California. They focus their practice on the representation of licensed professionals, individuals and businesses in civil, business, administrative and criminal proceedings. They have a specialty in representing licensed health care providers. Their website is:


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