FRESNO - A Modesto doctor accused of selling prescription drugs for cash and for no legitimate medical reason to undercover agents was arrested by California Department of Justice special agents on April 26, 2018. The arrest of Sawtantra Kumar Chopra, 71, follows an April 19, 2018 federal grand jury 22-count indictment against Chopra. He was arrested at his home in Modesto.
“He prescribed drugs to patients far and wide,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, alleging that patients from many Northern California locations sought out Chopra for prescription drugs.
U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott said between March 2017 and March 2018, in return for cash, Chopra allegedly sold hydrocodone to undercover agents on 14 occasions, alprazolam on six occasions and Promethazine with codeine syrup on two occasions.
“Medical professionals who abuse their position of trust and fuel the opioid epidemic for profit will be held responsible,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Prescription drug abuse is a serious public health crisis that harms families and communities throughout California. Combatting the epidemic and healing our communities takes a team effort. At the California Department of Justice, we will use every tool at our disposal to prosecute bad actors and protect the public.”
“It is unconscionable that a medical professional would prescribe these powerful and addictive drugs for cash and without any legitimate medical purpose,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “Thank you to the special agents in California DOJ’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse and federal agents for investigating this individual as well as other medical professionals suspected of this criminal activity.”
This case is the product of an investigation by the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse Drug Diversion Team, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Vincenza Rabenn is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Chopra faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison.