Orange County News
Exclusive: Doctor sentenced for prescribing drugs in coffee shops
SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Eyewitness News Exclusive: A doctor caught on video meeting with patients at a coffee house and selling them prescriptions for OxyContin, Xanax and other addictive drugs.
Prosecutors say Dr. Alvin Yee would meet his so-called patients mainly at Starbucks cafes, as well as at Carl's Jr. and Denny's restaurants, and in one instance at a car dealership and wrote a prescription as he was buying a new car.
Yee listened as a federal prosecutor showed the court surveillance video of the 44-year-old Orange County doctor met with a "patient" in a Starbucks café, but what Yee didn't know as he wrote a prescription for oxycodone and other dangerous drugs was that the "patient" was an undercover agent.
Authorities began investigating Yee in September 2010. Prosecutors say he would see up to 12 patients almost every night of the week, often meeting them at Starbucks coffee shops around Orange County.
"By the time that the investigation concluded, he was charging $600 for the initial visit, $300 for all subsequent visits," said the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Wolf.
Prosecutors say that in exchange for cash, he illegally prescribed highly addictive controlled drugs, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, amphetamines and Xanax.
Authorities say a third of his patients were no older than 25.
In court a mother told the judge that her 22-year-old son, an athlete, got prescriptions from Yee. He died from an overdose in 2011.
The court also heard how a 21-year-old woman also died after receiving prescriptions through Yee.
Prosecutors say he was not charged with their deaths because it was too difficult to prove the drugs directly involved with their deaths came from Yee.
Under a plea deal, Yee's attorney asked for a sentence of no more than 97 months, citing Yee's lack of criminal history.
Yee told the judge: "I'm truly sorry. I fully accept responsibility for all that's happened. ... It's a profound embarrassment and shame. ... There are people who won't even talk to me anymore including my parents and my own children."
U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Guilford told Yee: "People came to you for healing and they came away worse for the experience."
The judge sentenced Yee to more than 11 years in prison, more than the prosecutor asked for.
"It sends a powerful message that doctors who engage in this type of behavior are going to pay a high price," said Wolf.
Yee is out of custody but he must turn himself in on January 27, 2014, to begin serving his prison time.
sentencing, orange county news, eileen frere
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