Sunday, July 15 , 2018, 4:07 pm | Fair 77º


Local News

Former Santa Barbara Doctor Julio Diaz Withdraws Guilty Plea; Case Will Go to Trial

A judge decides Diaz hadn't been properly advised by his attorney when he pleaded guilty to overprescribing charges stemming from 11 patient deaths

A U.S. District Court judge allowed former Santa Barbara doctor Julio Diaz to withdraw his guilty plea of overprescribing powerful painkillers to patients, and the case will now go to trial. 

Diaz, who operated a medical practice on Milpas Street, pleaded guilty in January to federal charges of overprescribing that led to 11 patient deaths.

U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney allowed Diaz to withdraw those pleas, however, deciding that Diaz had not been properly advised on the case by his attorney at the time.

A federal affidavit accused Diaz of prescribing “profound” doses of drugs, including strong painkillers such as OxyContin, Fentanyl and Dilaudid, and he has been in federal custody since his arrest on Jan. 4, 2012.

Two families who lost loved ones to prescription drug overdose have settled civil lawsuits with local pharmacies and their pharmacists who filled Diaz's prescriptions.

Diaz has been represented by a handful of attorneys since the beginning of the case and his current attorney, Katherine Corrigan, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Noozhawk.  

At this point, Diaz is charged with 88 criminal counts, and there is no plea deal up for discussion, according to prosecutor Ann Wolf.

Those counts add up to nearly 1,500 years in potential prison time and millions of dollars in fines.

"Judge Carney felt that (the) defendant had not been advised by his counsel of the relevant conduct the court could consider in imposing sentence, specifically the 400 plus emergency room admissions and the 20 overdose deaths," Wolf said.

The next trial date set in the case is for May 19, 2015.

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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >