- A California doctor was sentenced to 30 years to life in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday for over-prescribing dangerous and addictive drugs.
- Dr. Hsiu Ying Tseng, 46, had been convicted by a jury in October 2015 for three counts of second-degree murder after three of her patients died from drug overdoses.
- Tseng’s conviction was the first time a doctor in the U.S. had been convicted of murder for over-prescribing drugs, according to the LA Country Deputy District Attorney.
As the first murder conviction for over-prescribing drugs, this case will set a legal precedent for future cases and comes as the U.S. faces a growing crisis in prescription painkiller overdoses.
Tseng was convicted for the overdose deaths of Vu Nguyen, 28, Steven Ogle, 24, and Joseph Rovero, 21, who all died in 2009. Tseng had prescribed drugs to all three of the young men. Rovero died after mixing alcohol with oxycodone, according to reporting by the LA Times.
The jury in the case convicted her in October of 2015 for three counts of second-degree murder, 19 counts of unlawful controlled substance prescription, and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. Tseng had been alerted to three earlier patient deaths in 2007 and 2008, but did not take action, which factored into her sentencing for the 2009 overdose deaths.
In 1997, Tseng opened a medical office in Rowland Heights, CA. Over a roughly three year timeframe, nine of Tseng’s patients died, according to the LA DA’s office. During that time, her office took in $5 million.
She has been in custody since March 2012 after federal agents posed undercover. The Drug Enforcement Administration began an investigation into Tseng in 2008 when a pharmacy reported overlapping patients for her office. The DEA reported Tseng wrote more than 27,000 prescriptions over a three-year period, which works out to an average of 25 a day, according to data cited by CBS News.