Former North Carolina doctor who ran ‘pill factory’ sentenced to more than six years in prison – The Coastland Times
A former doctor who ran a “pill mill” in Columbus County, where he improperly prescribed opioids and other controlled substances, was arrested on Thursday, April 7, in a news release from the US Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina.
According to court documents, John Whan Kim, 75, and co-defendant Tammy Thompson have been charged in a second arraignment with violating federal drug trafficking laws. Thompson pleaded guilty to multiple counts and is expected to be sentenced later this year. Kim pleaded guilty on December 28, 2021 to conspiracy to illegally distribute a quantity of oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and marijuana in violation of 21 USC §846, to multiple counts of unlawful dispensing and distribution of oxycodone in violation of 21 USC §841(a). . (1) and Distribution of Marijuana and Aid, in violation of 21 USC §841(a)(1) and 18 USC §2. Kim was also forced to relinquish all medical licenses and will never be allowed to practice medicine again, according to the press release.
“In March 2017, Kim was forced to leave the medical practice he was previously employed at due to concerns about his prescribing practices, particularly opioids,” the press release reads. “Kim established his own clinic in Tabor City, NC, and from October 2017 to June 28, 2018, Kim unlawfully and improperly prescribed opioids and other controlled substances to ‘patients’ who paid $200 in cash at each appointment.
“The investigation found that Kim often failed to meet basic standards of legitimate medical care,” the publication continued. “Kim wrote out controlled substance prescriptions for virtually every patient he saw, often despite not having a patient’s previous medical records, conducting a true physical exam, or considering alternative treatments, and often despite evidence of patient abuse and distraction.”
According to the press release, word of Kim’s willingness to improperly prescribe controlled substances spread quickly, and people came from across eastern North Carolina and other states to get prescriptions from him.
“Patient traffic and related activities, which often took place in the parking lot of Kim’s clinic, raised safety concerns for the neighboring Tabor City Elementary School, which was forced to restrict outdoor activities for students until a privacy fence was erected,” it said it in the press release . “In January 2018, a confidential source began conducting a series of controlled purchases from Kim and Thompson, with audio and video recorded. On June 29, 2018, search warrants were executed at Kim’s clinic and home, and Kim and Thompson were arrested. A medical expert reviewing Kim’s records found no evidence that Kim was providing genuine medical care and concluded that Kim was merely exchanging prescriptions for money.”
“The defendant abused his position as a physician to illegally distribute opioids, thereby endangering the safety of the community and the school adjacent to his office,” said Michael Easley, US Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. “My office will continue to work with law enforcement at all levels to take down criminal organizations that are contributing to East North Carolina’s drug problems.”
“As Dr. Kim dispensed nearly 2 million doses of addictive prescription drugs under the guise of medical treatment, it wasn’t about the community good or an individual’s specific health needs — it was about their selfishness and greed,” said Robert J Murphy, the special in charge Agent of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. “DEA and its law enforcement partners will continue to stem the tide against the growing opioid epidemic. dr Kim will now serve a long sentence in federal prison.”
Easley made the announcement following the sentencing by US District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Charlotte Tactical Diversion Squad, the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, DECU, were investigating the case and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nick Miller, Bryan Stephany and Tim Severo were prosecuting the prosecution.
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