Doctor Pleads Guilty to Federal Drug Trafficking/Money Laundering
When doctors are licensed and given the ability to prescribe powerful medications, a lot of trust is placed upon them that they won’t abuse that power. While the overwhelming majority respects this, an opportunity may present itself to a few which may become too tempting, ultimately resulting in a licensed doctor who succumbs to the greed of money.
One such case that was recently in the news involves Daniel Cham, a doctor from Covina, who agreed to plead guilty to one count of money laundering and one count of drug trafficking. The plea deal stems back to Cham’s initial arrest in 2014 when he was caught prescribing oxycodone to an undercover agent who posed as a patient. During the operation, the agent was able to obtain a prescription for the powerful pain medication by paying Cham $300 in money orders. According to the report, the agent was able to obtain a prescription from Cham on numerous occasions – even ones in which the agent informed Cham that he was high and drunk prior to receiving his prescription.
After payment, Cham took the money orders and deposited them into a bank account under the name of another business that he owned. Being paid to provide a prescription to an undercover agent was enough to result in the drug trafficking charge, while depositing the money orders in a financial institution resulted in the money laundering charge.
Dr. Cham was known to see patients at odd hours, such as Friday and Saturday nights between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. He would then post-date the prescriptions so that they appeared to have been made earlier in the week. All told, it is said that Cham provided some 42,000 prescriptions under similar circumstances since 2010.
Both offenses Cham has been charged with are federal crimes, so the penalties are a little different. Since Cham plead guilty to one count of drug trafficking, he faces a maximum prison sentence of no more than 20 years in federal prison.
The federal charge of money laundering carries the same possible sentence of no more than 20 years. Additionally, as part of the plea-deal, Cham has agreed to pay the federal government $60,000, which he admits are proceeds from his illicit activities.