[UPDATED with Prison Sentence:] Dr. Nazar Al Bussam, Newport Coast Septuagenarian, Pleads Guilty to Writing Prescriptions for Cash

UPDATE, OCT. 6, 11:31 P.M.: A Newport Coast doctor, who sold drugs to "street-level dealers" for cash, will spend the next seven years in federal prison.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge James S. Otero sentenced Nazar Al Bussam to prison time and Otero also ordered the 72-year-old doctor to pay a $125,000 fine and give up $450,000 in profits that he made from illegal drug sales, according to a Department of Justice news release. 

Al Bussam, who practiced medicine in Downey and Westlake, prescribed more drugs than any other doctor in California, according to a state database. He sold the drugs for cash, the news release says, adding that he was making more than $1 million a year from illicit drug sales.

"Doctor Al Bussam operated what was essentially a wholesale narcotics store hidden under the cloak of a medical clinic," said

André Birotte Jr.

, U.S. Attorney for California's central district. "Al Bussam knowingly gave narcotics to drug addicts and sold to street-level dealers who are spreading diverted pharmaceuticals -- and the pain of drug dependancy -- across this country."

Although prosecutors decided not to enter it as evidence, they did bring an LA Times article from the day before to Ortero's attention. The Times story says a review of coroner's records showed, "at least three of the doctor's patients died of drug overdoses in 2007 and 2008." 

Authorities didn't find out about the deaths during their investigation of Al Bussam.

 ORIGINAL POST, JULY 21, 11:26 A.M.: A 72-year-old doctor, who lives in Newport Coast, but practiced medicine in Los Angeles County, pleaded guilty to federal charges for writing thousands of unjustifiable prescriptions yesterday. 

The OC Register's Doug Irving reports that Nazar Al Bussam faces 230 years of prison time for "criminal conspiracy to sell prescriptions for cash," as described by prosecutors.

On numerous occasions Al Bussam wrote prescriptions for undercover agents. During a specific incident detailed in a federal indictment, an undercover agent told the doctor he planned to use the drug recreationally and Al Bussam still wrote him a prescription for oxycodone. Police in both California and Texas arrested people who got drugs with Al Bussam's prescriptions and then resold them, the article says.

[UPDATED with Prison Sentence:] Dr. Nazar Al Bussam, Newport Coast Septuagenarian, Pleads Guilty to Writing Prescriptions for Cash

Now, nobody should be surprised that dabbling in drug circles is a lucrative business, but just how lucrative was it for the doc? Well, prosecutors say he was raking in at least $100,0000 every month in recent years by trading cash for sketchy prescriptions, Irving writes.

As part of Al Bussam's plea deal, he agreed to forfeit more than $450 grand and stop practicing medicine. 

Before his arrest in October, Al Bussam's record was almost clean. Keyword: almost.

He was placed on probation once in 1998 for "initiating aggressive chemotherapy," on two different patients, when that was "not warranted by the clinical data presented," according to court documents on the Medical Board of California's website.


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