A bottle of pills. Photo by Amanda Mills/CDC.
A bottle of pills. Photo by Amanda Mills/CDC.

An Orange County physician pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring to illegally prescribe more than 120,000 opioid pills to nearly 20 people over a six-year span without a legitimate medical purpose in exchange for cash and insurance payments.

Dr. Dzung Anh Pham, 61, of Tustin, who owned Irvine Village Urgent Care, entered his plea to a federal charge of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, a crime that carries a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Sentencing was set for Jan. 6.

Pham and co-defendant Jennifer Nguyen, a pharmacist, conspired to distribute narcotics such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and amphetamine salts, according to papers filed in Los Angeles federal court.

Nguyen, 51, of Irvine, is expected to plead guilty to the conspiracy charge on Oct. 14.

“As defendant knew many pharmacies would not fill his prescriptions, he would direct his patients to co-defendant Nguyen and Bristol Pharmacy to fill the prescriptions,” prosecutors wrote.

In November and December of 2017, Pham issued prescriptions to one client, a known addict, for hundreds of pills of oxycodone, prosecutors said. He also wrote prescriptions for the client’s spouse though he never evaluated her.

The plea agreement lists 18 other clients, and stated that between January 2013 and December 2018, he wrote prescriptions for a total of approximately 53,693 pills of oxycodone, 68,795 pills of hydrocodone, and 29,286 pills of amphetamine salts.

When Pham was charged in 2018, prosecutors said five people who received prescriptions from the doctor died of overdoses.

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