“Dr. Starbucks” Alvin Mingczech Yee, the Mission Viejo physician who drew international headlines because he prescribed painkillers to young people he “treated” at the iconic coffee bars, including two patients who later died of overdoses, had his California license to practice medicine revoked effective last Thursday, according to state officials.
That’s nothing compared to what happened to Yee in October 2013: He was sentenced to 11 years in a federal prison.
Prosecutors had claimed Yee used his medical practice as a front for drug dealing.
He met with more than 10 “patients” a night—usually at a Starbucks—and wrote them prescriptions for drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax, Adderall and Suboxone in exchange for $600, according to the Department of Justice, which noted a third of these people were 25 or younger, six individuals were younger than 21 and some came to Orange County from as far away as Seattle and Detroit.
Among them was a 21-year-old Huntington Beach woman who was prescribed opiates and died of an overdose.
Another “patient” was a Drug Enforcement Agency undercover agent, who Yee told, “Bet you never had your blood pressure taken in a Starbucks before,” according to court documents.
The physician was arrested in his Irvine office after that, and at the time the feds said only one of Yee’s patients—the Surf City woman—had been known to have died by overdose.
Under a plea deal, Yee pleaded guilty in April 2013 to seven counts of illegal drug distribution by a practitioner. The U.S. Attorney’s Office recommended a 121-month prison sentence, but Judge Andrew Guilford, who was not bound by the deal, sentenced Yee to 135 months behind bars.
Guilford’s sentencing documents stated two people Yee had prescribed drugs had died from overdosing.
Medical Board of California documents indicate notices sent to Yee as part of the revocation process were returned to sender. Eventually the board concluded the doctor was not interested in defending himself to save his license, so away she goes (my words, not theirs).
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.