Orange County News

Doctor who prescribed drugs at coffee shops speaks out: ABC7 exclusive

Friday, January 17, 2014

An Orange County doctor who was caught on video in Starbucks writing illegal prescriptions for young patients is heading to jail.

With his wife, Lila Allen, by his side, Alvin Yee surrendered to U.S. Marshals in Santa Ana.

"I'm still in a bit of shock and very sad," Yee said.

The 44-year-old doctor is set to begin his 11-year sentence for what he was caught serving up at Starbucks shops in Orange County. His "fix" was not caffeine, but painkillers.

An eight-month investigation started in September 2010. Just about every night, authorities said Yee would see up to 12 patients.

"In my business entrepreneurial type of spirit, I thought I was more or less doing a house call. It was the modern day equivalent of a house call," Yee told Eyewitness News in an exclusive interview. "In all my cases that I saw patients, I had performed a good faith physical examination and a history and physical."

I pointed out that some of those examinations lasted less than a minute.

"I understand that. I mean, not all the times a physical examination process was perfect," Yee replied.

In exchange for cash, Yee prescribed highly addictive drugs, including Oxycodone, hydrocodone, amphetamines and Xanax.

"By the time the investigation concluded, he was charging $600 for the initial visit, $300 for all subsequent visits," said federal prosecutor Ann Wolf.

By 2011, Yee had enough money to open an Irvine office. There, an undercover officer posing as a patient was able to get drugs, including Oxycontin, for someone who wasn't even there.

Authorities say more than half of Yee's patients were no older than 25. Derek Rosas was one of them. Rosas was captain of his high school lacrosse team. His mother, Tammy Rosas, says he had some injuries, but wanted a holistic way to stay in shape.

"Derek had no drug history before he ever saw Dr. Yee," she said. "He ultimately became addicted to Oxycontin and Xanax."

His mother says in 2011, Rosas was out of rehab, going to school and working. He died at age 22 from an accidental overdose just days after seeing Yee.

"It's very unfortunate that Derek was able to fall through the cracks. But, again, this has a lot to do with how truthful he was being to me about his condition," said Yee.

Tammy Rosas says Yee had to have known that her son was addicted.

"Of course he knew he was addicted. The frequency in which he saw Derek at times, how can you not? It was about making money. That's very obvious," she said.

Yee said it was not about the money.

"It was my purest intent to try to help people in pain," Yee said.

Yee insists he brought in a drug counselor and dismissed more than 50 patients who seemed suspicious. Yee was never charged in Rosas' case or in the death of another patient, 21-year-old Krista Davis.

Yee, who is now heading to a federal prison in Texas, hired a federal prison consultant to help with his transition. He says his main regret is getting into the field of pain management.

"I have the utmost remorse for anything bad that happened," said Yee.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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sentencing, orange county news, eileen frere
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