A San Gabriel Valley doctor who pleaded guilty to a federal drug trafficking charge for illegally distributing OxyContin was sentenced to over 13 years in federal prison.
Dr. Daniel Cham, 49, a Covina resident who formerly operated a clinic in La Puente, was sentenced by United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford.
Acting on tip about a pharmacy that was filling a large number of prescriptions written by Cham, special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration discovered a “large-scale criminal operation” in which Cham was writing thousands of prescriptions for powerful painkillers, often in combination with alprazolam (often sold under brand name Xanax) or carisoprodol (often sold under the brand name Soma), according to court documents. “The combination of these drugs is particularly dangerous, and is associated with the majority of overdose deaths,” according to a sentencing memorandum filed in court.
An affidavit previously filed in this case discussed how an undercover officer made three visits to Cham’s La Puente office in 2014, and how Cham wrote prescriptions for controlled substances in exchange for $200 or $300 in cash or money orders. As discussed in the court document, Cham issued a prescription for oxycodone even though the undercover operative said he “had been high and drunk while receiving controlled substance prescriptions” previously from Cham.
On another occasion, Cham prescribed oxycodone even though the undercover law enforcement officer presented, in lieu of photo identification, a written notice that his license had been suspended for driving under the influence.
Cham pleaded guilty in April 2016 to one count of distribution of oxycodone, a powerful and addictive painkiller marketed under various names, including OxyContin, Vicodin and Norco. Cham also pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering.
Prosecutors wrote in court documents that Cham “stands before the court for selling prescriptions for massive amounts of oxycodone to persons he well knew were drug dealers and addicts, in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. Defendant’s illegal prescriptions killed at least two addicted youths, including a 22-year-old woman and 28-year-old man.”
The young woman, who was a resident of Oregon, died after ingesting narcotics prescribed by Cham to members of Oregon-based drug trafficking conspiracy. Cham issued prescriptions in the names of the Oregon drug traffickers – many of whom he had never met – and Cham created fake paperwork to make it falsely appear he had examined the “patients.” Investigators in Oregon identified over 12,000 pills of oxycodone that Cham illegally prescribed to the drug traffickers in that state.
In a plea agreement filed in this case, Cham admitted that he unlawfully prescribed oxycodone to an undercover agent posing as a patient in March 2014 in exchange for $300 in money orders, which Cham then deposited into a bank account held in the name of another business. Cham made the deposit “knowing that the transaction was designed to conceal and disguise the nature and source of the money orders,” according to the plea agreement.