A San Gabriel Valley doctor has pleaded not guilty to federal drug trafficking charges that allege he was writing hundreds of unnecessary prescriptions for powerful painkillers, such as oxycodone, in exchange for cash.
Dr. Daniel Cham, 47, was arraigned October 23, 2014, on a 31-count indictment. The indictment charges Cham with drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud and making false statements to federal authorities. The indictment focuses on prescriptions Cham wrote at various locations, including his medical offices in La Puente and Artesia. The alleged illegal prescriptions were for oxycodone , hydrocodone, alprazolam (commonly known by the brand name Xanax), and carisoprodol (a muscle relaxer best known as Soma).
"This is nothing short of drug dealing," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "We are suppose to trust our physicians, but those who illegally send powerful, addictive drugs into our society are just like drug dealers out on the street. They are putting all of us in harm's way and contributing to crimes committed by addicts against the citizens and visitors of California."
According to an affidavit, Cham often saw patients between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and post-dated prescriptions to make them appear to have been written on weekdays. From March 2013 to March 2014, Cham issued more than 5,500 prescriptions for controlled substances– and he issued more than 42,000 such prescriptions since July 2010, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit also discussed how an undercover officer made three visits to Cham’s La Puente office earlier this year, and how Cham wrote prescriptions for controlled substances in exchange for $200 or $300 in cash or money orders.
According to the affidavit, Cham issued a prescription for oxycodone to and undercover operative even though the undercover operative said he “had been high and drunk while receiving controlled substance prescriptions” previously from Cham. On another occasion, Cham prescribed oxycodone even though the undercover law enforcement officer presented, in lieu of photo identification, a written notice that his license had been suspended for driving under the influence.
Cham was arrested October 22, 2014 at his home in Covina. He has been ordered to serve home detention while free on bond and is prohibited from practicing medicine. His trial is scheduled for December 16.
If convicted of the 31 counts in the indictment, Cham would face a statutory maximum sentence of 339 years in federal prison.
The investigation into Cham was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS - Criminal Investigation, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Health Authority Law Enforcement Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the California Medical Board and the Los Angeles Police Department.