SAN DIEGO (CN) – A San Diego-area doctor who had sex with two patients for whom he wrote fraudulent narcotics prescriptions was sentenced Monday to 30 months in federal prison.
Dr. Naga Raja Thota, 62, admitted in his plea agreement that he wrote fraudulent prescriptions for hundreds of painkiller tablets for two women with whom he had sexual relationships. He also prescribed the drugs to the brother and father of one of them to provide her with more painkillers than allowed, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson.
Thota pleaded guilty to seven counts of dispensing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose. The drugs included oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and alprazolam, or Xanax.
He was arrested at his El Cajon office in September last year. According to a DEA affidavit, there were thousands of text messages and telephone contacts between Thota and the victims.
One woman met Thota when she was 20 years old and hospitalized for withdrawal symptoms from hydrocodone and alprazolam. Thota agreed to treat her and documented that he was treating her for pain though she did not have any medical condition that caused chronic or ongoing pain.
That victim said Thota kept upping her dosage and that she developed stronger opioid addiction, leading her to start using heroin. She said that had she not submitted to sexual acts, Thota would not have given her the painkiller prescriptions.
“Pain pill addiction has become a serious public health problem that is causing an increasing number of fatal overdoses nationwide. To make matters worse, in this instance prescription opiate addiction led, as is often the case, straight to a dangerous heroin habit,” Robinson said in a statement.
Thota faced a maximum of 20 years in prison, $1 million fine and lifetime supervised release. He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns.