Pooler Physician Hung Thien Ly Convicted of 129 Felony Counts of Dispensing Drugs Illegally
AUG 15 -- SAVANNAH, GA - Edmund A. Booth, Jr., United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia announced today that a federal jury sitting in U.S. District Court in Savannah returned 129 guilty verdicts on August 14, 2008, against doctor Hung Thien Ly. Dr. LY operated his practice out of a frame house on Highway 80 in Pooler, a municipality in western Chatham County. Evidence admitted over 3 ½ days of the trial showed that Dr. LY dispensed generic Lorcet and generic Xanax to “patients” for no legitimate medical reason as they who were in reality abusers of the medications, and in some cases addicts. Lorcet is a federally controlled drug which consists of hydrocodone (a narcotic) and acetaminophen. Xanax, a brand name, is an anti-anxiety drug and is also federally controlled.
Testimony from a Group Supervisor and Diversion Investigators of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency, and 11 former patients showed that Dr. LY performed minimal physical exams and perfunctorily wrote down “back pain” and “anxiety” on the patients’ charts as justification for his selling them narcotics and anti-anxiety drugs. In 2003 and early 2004, many pharmacists in the Savannah area refused to fill LY’s prescriptions because they did not appear to be properly issued. As a result, LY went directly to pharmaceutical distributors and obtained controlled substances from them. LY then sold the drugs directly to his patients/customers.
The evidence further established that LY made no appointments, accepted only cash as payment for his “services,” and refused to give receipts for the cash payments. LY required his patients/customers to return to him every 10 to 20 days for a re-supply of drugs. LY never took vital signs of his patients/customers after their first visit, never referred any of them out for a screen or scan or to see another doctor or specialist. He also never referred a patient out for physical therapy. He did not warn those coming to his office that Lorcet and Xanax could be addictive. A federal search warrant executed in March of 2006 at his Whitemarsh Island residence resulted in the seizure of a safe from his attic containing $180,000 in cash which is the subject of a civil forfeiture proceeding.
Expert testimony was also offered by the government. Pharmacologist and South University Professor Martin Zdanowicz testified that LY’s dispensing regimen could not be justified from a pharmaceutical perspective. In addition, Seneca, South Carolina pain specialist Dr. Arthur Jordan, testified that all of the 129 dispensations charged in the indictment were outside the usual course of professional practice and done for no legitimate medical purpose.
Booth praised all agencies involved in the successful prosecution including the Counter Narcotics Team and the Pooler Police Department.
Booth stated that LY will be sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge William T. Moore, Jr. after the probation office completes a pre-sentence investigation and report. LY remains on bond pending his sentencing. The government was represented at trial by Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph D. Newman and Jessica L. McClellan. LY chose to represent himself.
Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com and www.dea.gov