June 28th, 2012 | 1 Comment
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar de Longoria has ordered Dr. Hsui-Ying “Lisa” Tseng to stand trial for second-degree murder in the deaths of three patients she prescribed painkiller medications to. Tseng was charged in March 2012 following the 2009 deaths of Joey Rovero, 21; Vu Nguyen, 29; and Steven Ogle, 25. Among the medications prescribed by Tseng were oxycodone, muscle relaxant Soma, and anti-anxiety drug Xanax.
Tseng, 42, has pleaded not guilty to 24 felony counts and could face 45 years to life in prison if convicted on all charges. The decision came on the heels of a three-week preliminary hearing where Dr. Tseng was portrayed by former clients as the go-to doctor for easy-to-access prescription meds. Prosecutors allege that Tseng exhibited “implied malice,” knowingly prescribing medications that could have a deadly effect on patients. Evidence cited for this includes the drug-related deaths of several clients in her care prior to the overdose deaths of the three alleged murder victims.
It was in 2005 that Tseng and her husband, also a physician, opened their storefront office in Rowland Heights, a suburb of Los Angeles. By 2008 she was under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the California Medical Board for prescription drug irregularities after being reported by a pharmacy. From 2007 to 2010, a three-year period, Tseng wrote over 27,000 prescriptions, according to a DEA affidavit, a number the judge called “astounding.” That averages out to more than 9,000 per- year and nearly 25 per- day. Her husband continues to run the clinic.
Tseng is one of only a handful of doctors nationwide to be brought up on murder charges related to prescription drugs. Over 880,000 doctors in the U.S. are registered to write prescriptions, and federal agents investigate between 200 and 300 physicians annually for prescription drug excesses, according to DEA spokesman Rusty Payne.
In 2007 Noah Chua was found guilty of felony murder and violating the state’s controlled substances act after his client, Jamie Carter III, died of multi-drug intoxication. Carter has been prescribed several medications by Chua, including oxycodone and methadone. Harrison Bass was convicted in 2008 of second-degree murder in the death of Gina Micali, 38, who died after being prescribed hydrocodone, a painkiller used to treat moderate to severe pain. Bass was sentenced to 25 years to life.
More than 40 witnesses testified in the preliminary hearing for the case, including members of law enforcement and the coroner’s office, former staff members from Tseng’s clinic, expert witnesses, and former patients and their family members. The prosecution presented 140 pieces of evidence. Tseng is being represented by five attorneys.
Tseng’s bail has been set at $3 million. Judge Villar de Longoria denied a defense request to have the bail reduced to $1 million.
- “Murder charges against Calif. doc seen as warning.” Associated Press. 12 March 2012. Web. 28 June 2012.
“CA doctor ordered to trial in 3 drug deaths.” Associated Press. 26 June 2012. Web. 28 June 2012.
Written by T4A Admin
Filed under: Latest News · Tags: Addiction, addiction to painkillers, Alcohol and Drugs, convicted, dea, doctors, Dr. Hsui-Ying “Lisa” Tseng, Drug Enforcement Administration, medication, meds, methadone, murder, Noah Chua, oxycodone, Pain, painkillers, prescribing, prescription medication, Rusty Payne, soma, xanax
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