The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Xanax-Dealing Doctor Pleads Not Guilty to Second-Degree Murder

What’s the difference between a doctor and a Colombian drug trafficker? We don’t know, because in this case, they both have DEA agents after them, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Drugs can kill, even those drugs lawfully obtained through a doctor’s prescription. Doctors can go to jail for being careless in handing out drug prescriptions. A Los Angeles area doctor pleaded not guilty on March 16 to charges of murder stemming from her prescription of thee fatal overdoses. Her request for lower bail was also denied, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Hsiu-Ying "Lisa" Tseng was charged with three counts of second-degree murder. Three men were killed allegedly as the result of Dr. Tseng's reckless prescriptions: 28-year-old Vu Nguyen, 21-year- old Joey Rovero and 25-year-old Steven Ogle.

Tseng was arrested on March 1 outside her clinic in Rowland Heights.

There have been very few doctors across the country who have faced murder charges on the basis of faulty prescriptions, but there is an effort to crack down on these allegedly shady doctors. Tseng's defense lawyer could well argue that the system might be out to make an example of his client in the wake of high-profile celebrity overdose deaths.

Tseng wrote more than 27,000 prescriptions over a three-year period, from January 2007. These averaged out at 25 prescriptions a day.

Of the evidence against Tseng, the records of victim Rovero could come back to haunt her during trial. According to those records, Rovero complained of wrist pain but Tseng failed to establish which wrist was hurting, reports The AJC. He also complained of anxiety but the records indicate that Tseng did not inquire into the source of her patient's anxiety.

According to reports, instead, she prescribed him with oxycodone, Soma and Xanax. An autopsy found that Rovero died from a combination of alcohol and moderate to trace levels of the three drugs prescribed to him by Tseng.

While it may be difficult to allege that Tseng acted with malice in prescribing these drugs, the second-degree murder charge implies malice from Dr. Lisa Tseng's knowledge that her prescriptions could have a fatal result.

Tseng's bail amount is set at $3 million.

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