VENTURA (CBSLA.com) — An Agoura Hills doctor accused of giving out illegal prescription drugs is still allowed to practice medicine.
Dr. Terry Stanger made his first court appearance Wednesday after being charged with 15 felony counts in what authorities are calling a drug distribution scheme.
Stanger is charged with over-prescribing opiates and antidepressants without a legitimate medical purpose, money laundering and mailing medications throughout the United States and Europe.
The 67-year-old’s attorney, Steve Meister, told KCAL9’s Amy Johnson outside of court Stanger is a victim of a flawed investigation.
“My client has been practicing medicine for 40 years without any record of discipline,” Meister said.
“I know my client. And I know that when law enforcement agents, such as the sheriff’s department or the medical board, start to presume they know more about practicing medicine than doctors, we have got a problem.”
Investigators say a two-year investigation into Stanger proved otherwise.
“He was operating for cash only. He didn’t even take insurance. His waiting room – and our investigators were in there – were pretty much full,” Assistant Ventura County Sheriff Gary Pentis said.
Pentis oversees the Ventura County Combined Agency Task Force and the Ventura County Interagency Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit. Each began looking into Stanger after his prescriptions were linked to several fatal overdoses.
“We’ve done a number of these cases and we’re clearly going for the criminally operating individual. They just happen to have a medical license to deal drugs,” Pentis said.
The pharmaceutical unit started last May confiscating cash and drugs.
Since then, they have made 69 arrests, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists. They have served 46 search warrants and seized $2 million in illegal proceeds from the sale and diversion of pharmaceutical drugs.
But Meister said his client doesn’t belong on that list.
“I really am confident that at the end of the day that this case will disintegrate great into nothing,” he said.
Stanger is scheduled for arraignment on March 24.