STERLING – A local doctor who prosecutors say excessively prescribed pain meds, getting his patients hooked and causing the deaths of three of them, was arrested Wednesday on federal charges of illegally dispensing prescription drugs and income tax fraud.
Richard H. Ng, 61, owned Sauk Medical Clinic, which had offices in DeKalb and Sterling.
His wife, the office manager, also was indicted and arrested.
According to a news release Wednesday from the U.S. District attorney, a federal grand jury in Rockford indicted Ng Tuesday on 89 counts:
– 81 counts of dispensing controlled substances outside the course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose, each of which carries 5 years to life in prison in cases of death or injury, plus a $250,000 to $1 million fine.
– one count of conspiracy to dispense controlled substances outside the course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.
– seven counts of income tax fraud, each of which carries up to 3 years in prison or a fine up to $100,000 for an individual of up to $500,000 for a corporation, or both.
Lee Lee Foong, 54, also known as Audrey, was charged with:
– five counts of dispensing controlled substances outside the course of professional practice and without a legitimate legal purpose.
– one count of conspiracy to illegally dispense controlled substances outside the course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.
– one count of income tax fraud.
According to the release, Ng prescribed and dispensed Oxycodone, methadone, morphine and other pain meds without adequately evaluating his patients, increased the dosage, and required patients "to return frequently to Ng to obtain excessive amounts of the controlled substances."
He ignored obvious indications his patients were abusing or misusing the drugs, which caused the deaths of three of them, the release said.
Ng also filed false U.S. income tax returns for 2008-10, knowing that they underestimated the clinic's gross receipts by $922,850, for which they underpaid $320,738 in taxes, it says.
Ng and Foong also filed a false return for 2011, the year they were married, and failed to report $1,256,486 in cash from the clinic and rental receipts, for which they underpaid $270,873 in taxes, the release said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott R. Paccagnini is prosecuting. The Ngs' attorney was not named in the release. Sterling police assisted in the investigation.
No further information, including whether the two are free pending court proceedings, was available late Wednesday. A federal court public records search showed documents have not yet been filed in this case.
Online records did show, however, that a Richard H. Ng filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Feb. 5 in federal court in Rockford. His attorney in that case is John D. Landry.
In July 2011, Drug Enforcement Administration agents seized medical records and documents form Ng's clinics. That September, the DEA asked the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to immediately suspend Ng's registration.
Ng had been under investigation since at least October 2010, the IDFPR said in documents a year later, explaining why it was yanking Ng's medical and controlled substances licenses.
Sometime between 2010 and October 2011, three undercover DEA agents obtained prescriptions from Ng for various controlled substances, such as Vicodin ES and Norco, without being evaluated or examined. Those office visits were recorded, the documents said.
The DEA also reported that several Illinois pharmacists complained to the DEA about Ng’s “prescribing habits” and said his patients received large quantities of controlled substances.
In 1991, Ng’s license was suspended for 2 years and he was fined $20,000 after the IDFPR discovered he had submitted 95 claims to the Illinois Department of Public Aid for services he did not provide, the documents said.
The Sauk Medical Clinic office at 705 W. Third St. in Sterling has been closed since October 2011, and the building has been for sale since early 2012.