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SoCal Doctor Pleads Guilty to Distributing Addictive Painkiller and Laundering His Drug Trafficking Proceeds

APR 11 (LOS ANGELES) –A San Gabriel Valley doctor pleaded guilty to a federal drug trafficking charge for illegally distributing the powerful painkiller best known by the brand name OxyContin.  Dr. Daniel Cham, 48, of Covina, pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of oxycodone and one count of money laundering.

In the plea agreement, Cham admits to unlawfully prescribing oxycodone to an undercover agent posing as a patient in March 2014 in exchange for $300 in money orders, which Cham then deposited into a bank account held in the name of another business.  Cham made the deposit “knowing that the transaction was designed to conceal and disguise the nature and source of the money orders.”

Cham was initially charged in this case in October 2014 when a federal grand jury returned an indictment alleging narcotics trafficking, money laundering, fraud and making a false statement to authorities.  The indictment focused on prescriptions Cham wrote at various locations, including his medical offices in La Puente and Artesia.

As part of the investigation, law enforcement officers in May 2014 executed federal search warrants at 13 locations, including Cham’s residence and medical offices.  According to the affidavit in support of the search warrants, the doctor often saw patients between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and he post-dated prescriptions to make them appear to have been written on weekdays.  Over the course of a year that ended in March 2014, Cham issued more than 5,500 prescriptions for controlled substances – primarily for oxycodone, hydrocodone, alprazolam and carisoprodol – and he issued more than 42,000 such prescriptions since July 2010.

The drug trafficking and money laundering charges that Cham pleaded guilty to each count carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

In his plea agreement, Cham also agreed to forfeit to the government more than $60,000 in cash that he admits are “proceeds of [his] illegal activity.”

The investigation into Cham was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS Criminal Investigation, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Health Authority Law Enforcement Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the California Medical Board, and the Los Angeles Police Department.

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