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Santa Barbara Doctor Sentenced to over 27 Years in Federal Prison for Prescribing Exorbitant Quantities of Dangerous Narcotics

DEC 07 (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 overdoses – was sentenced today to 327 months in federal prison by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney.

Julio Gabriel Diaz, 67, a Goleta resident who operated the Family Medical Clinic in Santa Barbara and was known to some “patients” as the “Candyman,” was sentenced today after being found guilty in August by a federal jury.  During the 2½-week trial, prosecutors showed that Diaz was a prolific writer of prescriptions for highly addictive and dangerous drugs and that he prescribed the drugs outside of the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.

In 2011, for example, Diaz wrote prescriptions for more than 1.7 million doses of painkillers. His “patients” typically paid cash 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 that 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.  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 was arrested in this case in January 2012.  After his arrest, the state of California revoked his license upon finding that he provided incompetent and grossly negligent care.

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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