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Santa Barbara Doctor Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Charges of Overprescribing

Grand jury issues 12-count indictment against Dr. Julio Diaz; if convicted, he faces a total prison sentence of 300 years

A Santa Barbara doctor pleaded not guilty in federal court Monday morning to 12 counts of overprescribing prescription drugs.

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.

                                Prescription for Abuse  |  Complete Series Index  |

He was arrested Jan. 4 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.

A grand jury issued an eight-page indictment against Diaz last week, listing 12 counts of acting outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose, knowingly and intentionally distributed controlled substances — four counts of which say he dispensed those substances to a patient younger than age 21.

If convicted, Diaz faces a total sentence of 300 years — 20 years for each of the seven counts of distribution, and 40 years for each of the four distribution counts to people younger than age 21.

The first seven counts listed in the indictment deal with one patient prescribed hundreds of pills on the same day. On Nov. 15, 2010, the patient was allegedly given 60 pills of methadone, 240 pills of Hydrocodone, 45 pills of Alprazolam and 30 pills of Oxycodone. The next day, 240 Oxycodone allegedly were given out to the patient, and a week later, 45 more pills of Alprazolam.

Diaz faces four other counts of acting and intending to act outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose, knowingly distributing controlled substances to a person who was then under 21 years of age.

Diaz allegedly prescribed 60 pills of Oxycodone, 90 pills of Hydropmorphone and 60 pills of Alprazolam — all on Nov. 25, 2008, to the same young person. The patient was also allegedly given 100 pills of Alprazolam and 180 pills of Oxycodone in 2009.

In addition to any jail time, the indictment says that if Diaz is convicted of one or more of the charges, he must forfeit any and all property derived from proceeds obtained, directly or indirectly, from the offenses listed in the indictment. He would also have to give up any property used to facilitate the offenses, or a sum of money equal to the total value of the property to be forfeited.

Prosecutor Ann Wolf said the investigation is ongoing as to how much that would be.

Supporters of Diaz have recently put up a Web site and Facebook page to raise money for the doctor’s legal costs, and have even called for help purchasing the doctor’s practice. 

Diaz is due back in court on March 5 for a pre-trial status conference, and his trial is tentatively scheduled for March 13.

                                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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