Authorities charged a San Jose physician with illegally distributing opioids and committing health care fraud in 2018 where he issued 8,201 prescriptions, the majority of which were narcotics, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California said.

The suspect, 55-year-old Donald Siao, is charged with three counts of illegal distribution of hydrocodone and one count of illegal distribution of oxycodone pills, said officials. Authorities also charged Siao with two counts of health care fraud.

Health Care Fraud

After a prescription-monitoring system identified Siao as a high prescriber of narcotics, California officials immediately begun an investigation of the suspect’s practice. The physician was cited with 8,201 prescriptions in one year, with large quantities of hydrocodone, oxycodone and other opioids, muscle relaxants, and benzodiazepine.

If convicted of illegal distribution, Siao could be imprisoned for up to 20 years and given a maximum fine of $1 million. If he is convicted of health care fraud, it would give him an additional prison time of ten years and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Undercover law enforcement personnel disguised themselves as new patients during the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) probe with the help of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.