LOS ANGELES – A Rowland Heights doctor accused of the prescription drug overdose deaths of three patients – all young men in their 20s — was arrested today on a felony complaint filed by the District Attorney’s Office charging her with second-degree murder and other crimes.
Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng, 42, was taken into custody by state Medical Board investigators a day after prosecutors with the Major Narcotics Division filed the felony complaint for arrest warrant (BA 394495). Tseng is being held on $3 million bail. Arraignment is scheduled for Friday in Superior Court Department 30 in the Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles.
“Deaths from overdoses of prescription drugs now outnumber deaths from traffic accidents in the United States,” said District Attorney Steve Cooley. “Prescription drug overdose deaths have reached epidemic proportions. Enough is enough. Doctors are not above the law.
“Dr. Feelgoods who knowingly over-prescribe drugs for no medical reason other than someone asks for the drugs and pays the doctor a staggering amount of money will be dealt with severely,” the District Attorney added in a written statement. “They are violating the law by prescribing drugs for no legitimate medical purpose to otherwise healthy individuals for the sole purpose of the patient getting high. Those victims die while the doctor gets rich.”
Besides the murders, Tseng is charged with one felony count of prescribing drugs using fraud (Section 11173(a) of the Health and Safety Code) and 20 felony counts of prescribing drugs without a legitimate purpose (Section 1153(a) of the Health and Safety Code). Two of the prescription counts involve two of the patients who died. The remainder of the prescription counts involves victims who survived or prescriptions written for undercover officers.
Tseng, licensed to practice in 1997, opened a storefront medical office in Rowland Heights in 2005. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched an investigation in 2008 after a pharmacy reported overlapping customers. The lead investigative agency is the California Medical Board. Both agencies worked closely with Deputy District Attorney John Niedermann of the Major Narcotics Division, the lead prosecutor in the case.
The investigation involved undercover work and a search warrant that was executed at Tseng’s clinic. Tseng’s license to prescribe drugs was revoked by the DEA. The Osteopathic Medical Board of California has moved to revoke her license. Her husband, also a physician, continues to operate the clinic, Advanced Care AAA Medical.
Tseng is charged with murder in the drug overdose deaths of Vu Nguyen, 29, of Lake Forest, on March 2, 2009; Steven Ogle, 25, of Palm Desert, on April 9, 2009; and Joseph Rovero III, 21, an Arizona State University student from San Ramon, on Dec. 18, 2009. All were patients of Tseng, who prescribed a myriad of drugs for the three young men.
If convicted as charged, the defendant faces a possible maximum state prison term of 45 years to life.