LOS ANGELES – On April 10, 2014, a Los Angeles-area doctor, indicted on federal drug trafficking charges for allegedly illegally distributing drugs, including powerful and addictive painkillers, surrendered to authorities.
Dr. Andrew Sun, 78, of La Mirada, operated medical clinics in San Gabriel and East Los Angeles. The indictment charges Sun with 24 counts of illegally prescribing controlled substances including:
- hydrocodone (Vicodin and Norco)
- alprazolam (Xanax)
- diazepam (Valium)
- promethazine with codeine (a Schedule V cough syrup)
The indictment also charges Sun with four counts of laundering the proceeds generated by his illegal prescriptions.
According to an affidavit, Sun issued nearly 5,000 prescriptions for controlled substances in a one-year period that ended in July 2010. Some of those presecriptions were issued to undercover California Medical Board investigators who went into Sun's offices. Sun allegedly prescribed drugs, including hydrocodone, to undercover agents on 13 separate occasions, each time in exchange for $150 cash.
The affidavit quotes Sun telling one undercover agent: “So if you want to insist on getting such a strong medicine, I’ll give it to you. I’m just a doctor, I’m not God, okay, so I cannot say no to something that you want to do… I only advise you not to, but, if you want to do it I can’t do, I can’t say no.”
The affidavit details another instance in which Sun encouraged an undercover agent to provide a fraudulent justification for the “maximum” allowable number of extra-strength Vicodin pills.
An investigation by IRS - Criminal Investigation showed that Sun and his wife controlled 44 bank accounts, and that Sun deposited more than $1.1 million in cash into his accounts between 2008 and July 2012. The indictment charges Sun with laundering cash on four specific occasions when he deposited thousands of dollars in cash on dates that undercover agents met with him and received prescriptions.
"Medical Board investigators have investigated this doctor for years," said Alan Barcelona, president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA). "He was placed on administrative probation at one point, yet, according to the accusations, continued to illegally prescribe highly addictive pills for people who didn't need them. It was all about money and worked against a safe and healthy society."
If convicted of the 28 counts in the indictment, Sun would face a statutory maximum sentence of 248 years in federal prison.
The investigation into Sun was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS - Criminal Investigation, the California Medical Board, the California Department of Health Care Services and the Monterey Park Police Department.