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Santa Barbara Doctor Found Guilty of Prescribing Exorbitant Quantities of Dangerous Narcotics

AUG 25 (SANTA ANA, Calif.) – A Santa Barbara-area physician who wrote numerous prescriptions for powerful painkillers for “patients” – many of whom were drug addicts, and some of whom died from drug overdose – was convicted today of 79 federal drug trafficking charges.

Julio Gabriel Diaz, 67, a Goleta resident who operated the Family Medical Clinic in Santa Barbara, was found guilty following a 2½-week trial in United States District Court.  Diaz was arrested in this case in January 2012 and had his license revoked by the State of California after it found he provided incompetent and grossly negligent care.

Diaz, who was known to some “patients” as the “Candyman,” was a prolific writer of prescriptions for highly addictive and dangerous drugs.  In 2011, for example, Diaz wrote prescriptions for more than 1.7 million doses of painkillers. His “patients” typically paid cash, waited hours for a 10-minute visit, and received prescriptions for powerful drugs that included opioids, anti-anxiety medications and muscle relaxants.  Several doctors and pharmacists who testified during the trial said they had never seen any doctor prescribe the combination and quantity of drugs prescribed by Diaz.

Diaz was found guilty of 79 counts of distribution of a controlled substance.  Most of the charges related to prescriptions written for a number of powerful drugs, to include oxycodone, methadone, hydromorphone, fentanyl, hydrocodone, and alprazolam.  Additionally, five of the charges related to the distribution of various controlled substances to a minor.  In all 79 counts, the jury found that Diaz distributed the drugs outside of the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.  According to evidence presented at trial, doctors with Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital believed that Diaz posed such a threat that they prepared a spreadsheet documenting emergency room visits by patients who had been prescribed narcotics by Diaz.

Diaz is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney on December 14 and faces a maximum of 1,360 years in federal prison.

The investigation into Diaz was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Santa Barbara Police Department, with assistance provided by the California Medical Board.

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