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76 year old Sawtantra Chopra, who lives Modesto, pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of illegally prescribing opioids and other medication.

On April 19, 2018, a federal grand jury in Fresno brought a 22-count indictment against Chopra. He was arrested at his home in Modesto.

According to the indictment, between March 2017 and March 2018, on 22 occasions Chopra prescribed highly addictive, commonly abused prescription drugs outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.

According to court documents, Chopra admitted prescribing drugs – including hydrocodone, alprazolam (Xanax), and Promethazine with codeine syrup – outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. These drugs are highly addictive and commonly abused. They affect the central nervous system and may only be prescribed when medically required.

Chopra surrendered his medical license in 2020 as the case was pending.

This case is the product of an investigation by the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse Drug Diversion Team, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Michael Tierney is prosecuting the case.

Chopra is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 5, 2023, by U.S. District Judge Jennifer L. Thurston. Chopra faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

This is Dr. Chopra’s second run-in with the law.

In 2002, he was charged with violating federal kickback law in the United States District Court, for the Eastern District of California.

Prosecutors claimed he knowingly solicited and received kickbacks for referring some of his patients to Family Medical Home. He was paid $2,500 per month plus a percentage of Family Home profits. He also received basketball tickets to the Sacramento Kings games. On May 28, 2002 he plead guilty to the one count filed against him.

Disciplinary charges were filed against him by the California Medical Board on July 12, 2002 as a result of his conviction. He entered into a Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order in May 2003 to resolve the charges.