Santa Barbara doctor convicted of drug trafficking

August 29, 2015

hand cuffs 1A Santa Barbara-area physician who wrote numerous prescriptions for powerful painkillers, such as OxyContin, for “patients” – many of whom were drug addicts, and some of whom died from drug overdoses – was convicted Friday of 79 drug trafficking charges, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Julio Gabriel Diaz, 67, a Goleta resident who operated the Family Medical Clinic in Santa Barbara, was found guilty following trial in United States District Court. Diaz, who was known to some “patients” as the “Candyman,” was a prolific writer of prescriptions for highly addictive and dangerous drugs.

In 2011, for example, Diaz wrote prescriptions for more than 1.7 million doses of painkillers. His “patients” typically paid cash, waited hours for a 10-minute visit with Diaz, and received prescriptions for powerful drugs that included opioids, anti-anxiety medications and muscle relaxants. Several doctors and pharmacists who testified during the trial said that they had never seen any doctor prescribe the combination and quantity of drugs prescribed by Diaz.

Twenty-six of the 79 charges against Diaz relate to oxycodone (a drug often sold under the brand name OxyContin), 10 of the charges relate to methadone, seven of the counts relate to hydromorphone (a drug commonly sold under the brand name Dilaudid), 10 of the charges relate to fentanyl, 11 of the charges relate to hydrocodone (a drug often sold under the brand names Vicodin and Norco), 10 of the charges relate to alprazolam (a drug often sold under brand name Xanax), and five of the charges related to the distribution of various controlled substances to a minor.

The jury found that Diaz distributed the drugs outside of the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.

As a result of today’s verdicts, Diaz will face a maximum possible sentence of 1,360 years in federal prison, although the actual sentence will likely be less under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Diaz is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney on Dec. 14.

According to the evidence presented at trial, doctors, nurses and other personnel with Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital wrote to the Medical Board of California and gave statements to investigators to complain about Diaz. Cottage Hospital doctors believed that Diaz posed such a threat that they prepared a spreadsheet documenting emergency room visits by patients who had been prescribed narcotics by Diaz.

Diaz was arrested in this case in Jan. 2012. After his arrest, the state of California revoked his license.

The investigation into Diaz was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Santa Barbara Police Department, which received the assistance of the California Medical Board.


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6 Comments

  1. TruthFairy says:

    CentralcoastRN
    Maybe being an RN you are more sensitive to this issue, blaming the doctor. I believe the patients knew exactly what they were doing, waiting for hours for ten minute visits, (unless this was at CHC.(Just kidding)), and calling him the ‘candy man’. They didn’t line up to see him because they were naïve.
    I think this is a personal matter, between the doctor and patient. Not the law and the justice system. You probably see the worse of the cases. I see the ones you don’t see, because they don’t end up in an ER or in jail.

    (1) 7 Total Votes - 4 up - 3 down
  2. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    Goes to show our CRAZY sentencing in this country. They are willing to give this guy about 1300 years and yet a guy like Jerod from Subway is looking at 10?? WTF!!? Who is the bigger danger to people and or society as a whole?

    (3) 13 Total Votes - 8 up - 5 down
    • fat chance says:

      I say give them both 1,360 years…..

      (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
  3. indigo1955 says:

    First, do no harm.

    (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down
  4. achillesheal says:

    Who can take some morphine
    Sprinkle it with dew
    Throw in some OxyContin and a Vicodin or two
    The candy man. The candy man can.

    (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
  5. CentralcoastRN says:

    This sounds like justice to me. I am happy medical professionals spoke out to get this guy off the streets.

    We are seeing more and more heroin use because patients, teens, others who cannot get their oxycontin, norco, etc. There are so many young people needing Suboxone, Vivitrol, Methodone, to try and get off these drugs. I hope the patients of this doctor get help if they want it. They should sell off all this doctor’s assets to do so. Patients don’t always know better, but this doctor did.

    (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down

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