News Release
Date: March 05, 2012
Contact: DEA Public Affairs
Number: 213-621-6827

California Doctor Charged With Murder in Multiple Patient Deaths

MAR 05 - (Los Angeles) – Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng, 42, a Rowland Heights doctor stands accused of the prescription drug overdose deaths of three patients – all young men in their 20s, and was arrested March 1, 2012 on a felony complaint filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charging her with second-degree murder and other crimes.

The three patients who died of drug overdoses are Vu Nguyen, 29, of Lake Forest, on March 2, 2009; Steven Ogle, 25, of Palm Desert, on April 9, 2009; and Joseph Rovero III, 21, a University of Arizona student from San Ramon, on Dec. 18, 2009. All were patients of Tseng who prescribed a myriad of drugs for these young men. If convicted as charged the defendant faces a possible maximum state prison term of 45 years to life.

Besides the murders, Tseng is charged with one felony count of prescribing drugs using fraud (Section 11173(a) of the Health and Safety Code), and 20 felony counts of prescribing drugs without a legitimate purpose (Section 1153(a) of the Health and Safety Code). Three of the prescription counts involve two of the patients who died. The remainder of the prescription counts involves victims who survived or prescriptions written for undercover officers.

Tseng was taken into custody by California State Medical Board investigators a day after prosecutors with the Major Narcotics Division filed the felony complaint for arrest warrant (BA 394495). Tseng is being held on $3 million bail. Arraignment is scheduled for Friday in Superior Court Department 30 in the Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles.

“Prescription drug abuse has risen to alarming levels and is having a devastating impact on our families and communities,” said Timothy J. Landrum, DEA Special Agent in Charge. “Many obtain these dangerous drugs from doctors prescribing drugs for no medical need. DEA is committed to working together with our state and local counterparts to ensure doctors who abuse their authority are not allowed to continue to do so.”

“Deaths from overdoses of prescription drugs now outnumber deaths from traffic accidents in the United States,” said District Attorney Steve Cooley. “Prescription drug overdose deaths have reached epidemic proportions. Enough is enough. Doctors are not above the law.

“Dr. Feelgoods who knowingly over-prescribe drugs for no medical reason other than someone asks for the drugs and pays the doctor a staggering amount of money will be dealt with severely,” the District Attorney added in a written statement. “They are violating the law by prescribing drugs for no legitimate medical purpose to otherwise healthy individuals for the sole purpose of the patient getting high. Those victims die while the doctor gets rich.”

Tseng, licensed to practice in 1997, opened a storefront medical office in Rowland Heights in 2005. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched an investigation in 2008 after a pharmacy reported overlapping customers. The lead investigative agency is the California Medical Board. Both agencies worked closely with Deputy District Attorney John Niedermann of the Major Narcotics Division, the lead prosecutor in the case.

The investigation involved undercover work and a search warrant that was executed at Tseng’s clinic. Tseng’s DEA Certificate of Registration to prescribe controlled substances was revoked by the DEA in 2010. The Osteopathic Medical Board of California has moved to revoke her medical license. Her husband, also a physician, continues to operate the clinic, Advanced Care AAA Medical.