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Santa Barbara Physician Admits To Distributing Prescription Drugs

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Prescription pill bottles

(Photo credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A Santa Barbara physician that federal prosecutors say was known as “Candy Man” pleaded guilty Thursday to several counts of distributing prescription drugs like oxycodone, methadone and hydrocodone without legitimate medical reasons.

Julio Gabriel Diaz, 65, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of distributing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose and one count of distributing controlled substances to a minor. Diaz operated the Family Medical Clinic in Santa Barbara prior to his arrest two years ago, United States Attorney’s Offices spokesman Thom Mrozek said.

“Dr. Diaz was, quite simply, acting as a common drug dealer,” United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said.

In a plea agreement filed last year in United States District Court, Diaz admitted to distributing oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, alprazolam, fentanyl and hydromorphone in 2009 and 2010 “while acting and intending to act outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.”

Diaz has been linked to fatal drug overdoses, according to court documents previously filed in the case and in civil lawsuits, but he has not been specifically charged with causing any deaths, officials said.

Diaz is scheduled to be sentenced on June 2 and faces a maximum statutory sentence of 200 years in federal prison and fines of up to $10 million.

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