A pharmacist who owned two Southland drug stores pleaded guilty this week to illegally distributing the painkiller OxyContin without legitimate medical purpose.
Elizabeth Duc Tran, 48, of Fountain Valley, whose Mission Pharmacy had outlets in Panorama City and Fountain Valley, entered her plea to a federal conspiracy count tied to an alleged drug trafficking ring based at a medical clinic in the Westlake district of Los Angeles that illegally distributed more than 1 million OxyContin pills, court papers show.
An indictment filed in Los Angeles federal court describes Lake Medical Group on West 8th Street in Los Angeles as a "prescription mill" that both generated prescriptions for unneeded OxyContin and submitted claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal for medical services that were unnecessary or were never performed.
Prosecutors contend that physicians based at Lake Medical knowingly diverted the OxyContin by prescribing it to people who did not have a medical need.
The indictment further alleges that a significant percentage of the prescriptions were filled at Southland pharmacies owned and operated by Tran and six others.
Prosecutors allege that Tran and others "structured" cash deposits by making bank deposits in amounts of $10,000 or less to evade bank reporting requirements in order to deal with the large amounts of cash generated from the illegal OxyContin sales.
As part of her plea agreement, Tran agreed to voluntarily surrender her pharmacy license and DEA registration, prosecutors said. She will also forfeit about $208,000 to the government.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lana Morton-Owens told the court that Tran "intentionally ignored" standards of medical care in order to make money.
U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson set March 24 for sentencing. The charge carries a possible maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, $1 million in fines and lifetime supervised release, Morton-Owens said.
—City News Service.