Pharmacist goes on trial in ‘pill mill’ case

Tran

GULFPORT

 The trial has begun for Nick Tran, the final defendant in an alleged prescription “pill mill” conspiracy involving a Biloxi medical clinic and pharmacy raided in May 2008.

Tran, who owned Tran’s Pharmacy on Division Street, and three others were charged in a 60-count indictment from a probe by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The others — two doctors and their office manager — have accepted plea agreements to a total of two felonies and three misdemeanors.

The jury was selected on Monday and the government opened its case.

Defense Attorney David Morrison will present opening statements once the government rests its case.

Testimony resumes at 9 a.m. today in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

Court papers show the government will present the original medical records of about 100 patients of Dr. Thomas Trieu and his wife, Dr. Victoria Van, and printouts from the pharmacy database and the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy.

In a motion to seal the records before trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Meynardie wrote that the records will be cross-referenced to show prescriptions written by the doctors and filled by Tran’s pharmacy.

The government has maintained the four conspired to dispense narcotics for drug-seekers who received prescriptions without sufficient medical examinations. The government also claims the prescriptions are linked to at least eight drug-related deaths.

No death-realted charges have been sought.

The DEA initially accused the co-defendants of money laundering, resulting in a forfeiture count in the indictment. No charges panned out on money laundering and the judge has dismissed the forfeiture count for Tran and the others.

Richard Trieu, the doctors’ office manager, received a year’s probation and a $5,000 fine on a plea to one felony count.

The doctors await sentencing. The husband pleaded guilty to a felony and two misdemeanors; his wife pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor.

By ROBIN FITZGERALD – rfitzgerald@sunherald.com

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