Doctor who prescribed oxycodone pleads guilty to distribution

A doctor who used to practice in D.C. and Falls Church, Virginia, pleaded guilty to five counts of unlawful drug distribution after a man he prescribed oxycodone and hydrocodone to a Virginia man who then died of an overdose.

According to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release, Dr. Robert M. Cao, 39, formally of Falls Church, Virginia, pleaded guilty on Tuesday.

Cao admitted that he wrote the man prescriptions at least five times.

“Cao provided the narcotic prescriptions to the victim without having any doctor-patient relationship with him, without any physical examination, diagnosis, or treatment plan, and knowing that the victim had no medical condition that would necessitate such prescriptions,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a new release.

In May 2021, first responders were called to the victim’s Fairfax home where he died of an overdose.

His autopsy revealed the cause of death was acute combined oxycodone and ethanol poisoning.

Prescription bottles found at the man’s home listed Cao as the prescribing doctor.

Prosecutors say text messages between Cao and the man included conversations about the former doctor prescribing narcotic pain medications in exchange for a kickback. The messages includes a meeting between the two the night before the man died.

According tot the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Cao also took elaborate steps to avoid detection from law enforcement and regulatory authorities. Prosecutors said he recommended the victim to not create a paper trail, and to fill the prescriptions at times when they were unlikely to be questioned by pharmacies. Additionally, Cao hid the pad he used to write the man prescriptions that he took from a D.C. cosmetic office where he previously worked, at his home inside a “hollowed-out container made to look like a diary.”

Then, after learning of the man’s overdose, Cao made counterfeit backdated medical records to make it appear that he gave real prescriptions to the victim as part of a lawful doctor-patient connection, the news release said.

He is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 22, 2023.

Dan Ronan

Weekend anchor Dan Ronan is an award-winning journalist with a specialty in business and finance reporting.

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