SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California doctor has agreed to plead guilty to charges of illegally prescribing drugs to his patients at nightly meetings in Starbucks stores.
Court documents show Alvin Mingczech Yee, 44, entered into a plea agreement earlier this week. He is expected to plead guilty to seven counts at an April 17 hearing. The agreement recommends a prison sentence between eight and 10 years.
Yee saw up to a dozen patients nightly at Starbucks coffee stores across suburban Orange County at meetings that cost up to $600, prosecutors said. Yee barely examined them but prescribed powerful painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin.
Court records show Yee took the pulse and blood pressure of one patient — who turned out to be a confidential source for the Drug Enforcement Agency.
"Bet you never had your blood pressure taken in a Starbucks before," according to an affidavit.
Yee was arrested in October 2011 at his Irvine office and has been free on bond. He was charged with dozens of counts of illegally distributing a controlled substance.
Court records said investigators seized large amounts of commonly abused drugs linked to Yee from suspected drug dealers and others in Detroit, Phoenix and Seattle.
A medical expert who reviewed Yee's practice for federal prosecutors called it "a front for drug dealing," according to the affidavit. One of Yee's patients, a 21-year-old woman, died of a drug overdose in 2011 after he prescribed drugs for her, according to the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/10xgMWL ).
The affidavit cites a preliminary finding by the Orange County coroner's office that noted Yee's name was associated with several other overdose deaths that were under investigation.
Yee has a delinquent medical license, according to the Medical Board of California's website. His license expired last year.