Pinoy doctor accused of illegally selling pain killers in US

by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Jul 13 2012 06:05 PM | Updated as of Jul 14 2012 02:05 AM

GLENDORA, California – Sixty-nine year old doctor Rolando Lodevinco Atiga was arrested Thursday morning at his Glendora Clinic and remained in police custody for nearly 8 hours.

Police claim that after a 2-month sting operation, the Philippine-born physician sold highly addictive pain killer prescriptions to patients that didn't need them.

“We had undercover officers with no medical problems and basically pay cash anywhere between $250 and $500. A person could pay cash and he would write a prescription and a script for drugs such as hydrocodone, vicodin, oxycoton, zanyx, that type of medicine,” said Tim Staab of the Glendora Police Department.

Staab said tips helped initiate the investigation which, on one occasion, involved an officer using a dog's X-ray to convince Atiga to prescribe powerful pain medications.

The Philippine Union College Graduate, who began his practice in the Philippines before migrating to southern California 37 years ago, denies any wrongdoing and claims he was doing his job as a doctor.

“We do exams every person that come there, we see their history, we see who they are we see what they do we see what their physical examinations are,” he said.

Police said investigations are continuing and additional charges may be placed on Atiga, as well as staff and buyers.

Atiga is presently facing felony charges for unauthorized issuing of prescriptions. Police are unsure how long this alleged crime has been going on.

“We'll determine what kind of evidence was confiscated at his home and at his place of business, we'll write it up in reports, submit it to the district attorney's office,” Staab said.

Atiga has been on probation with the State Medical Board since 2010 for a felony conviction where he allegedly accepted illegal kickbacks for arranging home health services.

Atiga will appear in court within the next 90 days where he will fight the charges that carry possible penalties of tens of thousands of dollars in fines, prison time and possible revocation of his medical license.