Oxycodone, best known by trade names OxyContin (shown), Vicodin and Norco. File image.

A San Gabriel Valley doctor was sentenced Wednesday to 160 months in federal prison for illegally distributing the powerful pain killer oxycodone.

Dr. Daniel Cham, 49, of Covina had pleaded guilty in April of 2016 to one count of distribution of oxycodone, best known by trade names OxyContin, Vicodin and Norco. He also pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and was sentenced in Santa Ana by U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford.

Cham had operated a clinic in La Puente, according to Thom Mrozek, public affairs officer with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said in court documents that Cham sold prescriptions for large quantities of oxycodone to people he knew to be drug dealers and addicts and that the illegal prescriptions had resulted in the deaths of a 28-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman from Oregon who died after taking narcotics prescribed by Cham to participants in an Oregon-based drug-trafficking conspiracy, according to Mrozek.

“There is an opioid-abuse epidemic in this nation, and some of that drug abuse is fueled by unscrupulous doctors like this defendant,” U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna said.

“The lengthy sentence imposed in this case is the direct result of this defendant’s profiting from prescribing narcotics to persons he knew to be addicts and drug dealers — actions that led to fatal overdoses for two people.”

Authorities were tipped off that a large number of Cham’s prescriptions were being filled at a particular pharmacy.

Special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration learned Cham was writing thousands of painkiller prescriptions as well as prescriptions for alprazolam — best known as Xanax — or carisoprodol, which is sold under the trade name Soma.

“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.

Cham agreed as part of his plea deal to forfeit more than $60,000 in ill-gotten cash.

Guilford said he was concerned “other doctors haven’t gotten the message of the seriousness of this activity.”

–City News Service

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