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Doctor Licensed in the District of Columbia and Virginia Charged With Unlawful Distribution of Controlled Substances

Report Annapolis
Report Annapolis
 2021-09-19

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A criminal complaint was unsealed this week in the District of Columbia charging a doctor with unlawful distribution of a controlled substance outside the scope of his professional practice. As detailed in court documents, the case relates to defendant Dr. Robert M. Cao prescribing various narcotic pain medications in the months and days leading up to a man’s May 31, 2021 overdose death.

The announcement was made by Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division Wayne A. Jacobs.

Cao, 38, of Falls Church, Va., was arrested on Sept. 14 and made his initial appearance the following day before Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. His next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 28, 2021. The charge carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and potential financial penalties.

According to court documents, Cao is a physician who is licensed to practice medicine in the District of Columbia and Virginia. Between in or around at least Jan. 9, 2021, and continuing through in or around May 30, 2021, the documents allege, Cao knowingly and intentionally wrote a man identified in court documents as “V.C.” at least five prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone, Schedule II controlled substances with a high potential for abuse.

On May 31, 2021, first responders were dispatched to a Fairfax, Va. residence in response to a 911 call for assistance regarding “V.C.,” after his girlfriend found him cold and non-responsive. He was pronounced deceased under suspicious circumstances.

A subsequent autopsy report documented the cause of death as acute combined oxycodone and ethanol poisoning. On the nightstand next to where “V.C.” was found were prescription bottles, including one containing Percocet (a brand name of the narcotic analgesic oxycodone/acetaminophen) pills filled on May 23, 2021. Cao was the prescribing doctor listed on the bottle.

Court filings also detail text message exchanges between Cao and “V.C.”, including discussions about Cao prescribing narcotic pain medications to “V.C.”; “V.C.” agreeing to give Cao a kickback on some of those pills; and meetings between the two, including a meeting in a parking lot on the night before the man’s death.

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