Biloxi doctors get prison time in pill mill case

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 3, 2010

GULFPORT (AP) — A federal judge has ordered two Biloxi doctors to prison for prescription-drug violations.

U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. on Thursday sentenced Dr. Richard Trieu to eight years in prison for prescribing narcotics outside the scope of professional practice. The judge gave Trieu’s wife, Dr. Victoria Van, a year in prison.

Both were taken into custody immediately.

‘‘They entered into a trust with the community and they failed,’’ Guirola said. ‘‘They forgot who they were serving and began serving themselves.’’

Guirola said the couple shared in the profits of a joint venture that fed illegal drug activity on the street.

After prison, Van will have a year’s probation; Trieu will have five years’ probation.

Prosecutors said the doctors’ clinic saw as many as 150 patients a day.

The judge had dismissed a 60-count indictment in exchange for guilty pleas.

Trieu pleaded to one felony and two misdemeanors. The felony was for alprazolam given to a patient between the ages of 18 and 20. The misdemeanors were for a narcotic cough syrup.

Van pleaded to one misdemeanor for a cough-syrup prescription for one of her husband’s patients.

Prosecutors said Van began writing far fewer cough-syrup prescriptions after a Biloxi police officer talked to the couple about their reputation among drug seekers and about drug deals in their parking lot.

Nick Tran, a pharmacist charged with the couple, is scheduled for a second trial in June. A jury found him not guilty on most counts in March but could not decide on 11 counts.