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Local News

Santa Barbara Doctor Accused of Overprescribing to Be Arraigned Next Week

Dr. Julio Diaz's North Milpas Street office remains closed, with a preliminary hearing in his federal drug trafficking case set for Jan. 19

A Santa Barbara doctor accused of overprescribing medications appeared briefly in federal court Thursday in Orange County, but his arraignment was continued until next week.

Dr. Julio Diaz
Dr. Julio Diaz

Dr. Julio Diaz, 63, of Goleta, faces a federal criminal complaint of distribution of controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice and without legitimate medical purpose.

He was arrested Wednesday morning at his home in the 400 block of Cannon Green Drive, and Drug Enforcement Administration agents then drove him to his office at the Family Care Clinic, 510 N. Milpas St. There, they carted away records, computer hard drives and prescription medications.

Prosecutor Ann Wolf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Thursday’s arraignment was continued at Diaz’s request. He’ll be back in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana at 10 a.m. Tuesday and will be held in custody until then, she said.

Diaz’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. Jan. 19.

If convicted of the charge of illegal distribution of a controlled substance by a medical practitioner, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison. A 75-page affidavit described the cases of dozens of Diaz’s patients, 11 of whom died from drug-related causes.

According to the affidavit, “profound” doses of drugs such as OxyContin, Fentanyl and Dilaudid were prescribed for common physical conditions like back pain and menstrual cramps. The document says some of the patients required emergency room visits shortly after leaving Diaz’s office.

Diaz’s clinic remained shuttered Thursday, with signs on the front and back doors saying the office was closed.

                                Prescription for Abuse  |  Complete Series Index  |

During research for Noozhawk’s Prescription for Abuse series, multiple sources — ranging from pharmacists, emergency-room doctors, families and law enforcement — alleged that Diaz consistently overprescribes pain medication, among other things.

Santa Barbara County civil court documents reveal a medical malpractice case and another case of negligence, both of which Diaz settled.

There was more than one arrest Wednesday.

Diaz’s unemployed stepson was arrested for possession of drugs and an unregistered firearm after the family’s home was searched. Jose Trinidad, 27, lived in the residence and was at the home when Santa Barbara police narcotic detectives arrived. In his room, detectives found numerous glass jars that contained marijuana, with a value of about $4,000, according to police Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte, a department spokesman.

Detectives also found concentrated cannabis, a handgun with 77 rounds of ammunition next to Trinidad’s bed, and more than $1,000 in cash.

“The investigation revealed that Trinidad had purchased the handgun from a friend and did not register it,” Duarte said.

Trinidad was arrested and booked at Santa Barbara County Jail for possession for sales of marijuana and possession of a firearm while in the commission of a felony. His bail is set at $150,000.

                                Prescription for Abuse  |  Complete Series Index  |

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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