Chester County Doctor Sentenced to Prison for Operating Pill Mill Out of Main Line Pain Clinic

United States PenitentiaryImage by Gerd Altmann

PHILADELPHIA, PA — United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Yutong Zhang, 64, of Berwyn, PA, a physician, was sentenced Friday to two years in prison, and three years of supervised release by United States District Court Judge Michael M. Baylson for operating a pain management medical practice in St. Davids, PA, as a “pill mill.”

In February 2022, the defendant pleaded guilty to an Information charging four counts of distributing oxycodone-containing medications outside of the usual course of professional practice and for no legitimate medical purpose. From approximately 2016 through 2020, Zhang sold medically unnecessary prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances to about 120 so-called patients, who were actually cash-paying customers. The defendant frequently supplied these prescriptions after conducting only a cursory physical examination or without any examination at all, and did not take steps, such as ordering diagnostic testing, designed to discern the root cause of the pain reportedly suffered by patients.

In a separate but related civil settlement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Zhang agreed to resolve his civil penalty liability under the Controlled Substances Act.  Zhang agreed to pay $715,000 in civil penalties for his controlled substance prescribing. The civil settlement also permanently prevents Zhang from ever prescribing controlled substances.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to fighting the opioid epidemic on all fronts, including prosecuting drug dealers who happen to have a medical degree,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “As a physician, Yutong Zang was certainly aware of the inherently dangerous nature of the drugs he was selling, but he chose to profit from sales of prescriptions, instead of providing genuine medical treatment. His actions kept addicted customers returning to his office, contributing to the opioid crisis on the streets of Philadelphia.”

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“Today we see yet another local physician going to prison for pushing powerful pills to addicts,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “We see a waste of all that education and experience, and we see a monstrous ethical lapse. Zhang and other doctors who deal oxycodone to anyone who can pay for it are directly fueling the opioid crisis and its mounting human toll here. The FBI is committed to holding accountable medical professionals who choose to throw away their oath and get involved in this dangerous drug diversion.”

“Dr. Zhang demonstrated a complete and utter disregard of his medical oath as a doctor by prescribing powerful prescription painkillers for no legitimate purpose and for profit only,” said Thomas Hodnett, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division.  “In addition to his federal prison sentence, Dr. Zhang will have to pay a $715,000 civil penalty fine and is prohibited from ever prescribing controlled substances again.”

“As a physician, Dr. Zhang was trusted to care for his community,” said Acting Attorney General Michelle Henry. “He violated that trust by prescribing highly addictive drugs that fuel the opioid crisis throughout Pennsylvania. We will hold any individual, including health care professionals, accountable when they recklessly put the lives of others at risk.”

“We are pleased to shut down this illegal operation within our community,” said Radnor Township Police Superintendent Chris Flanagan. “These ‘pill mills’ affect everyone involved; the user, their friends and their families. Over time they truly ruin lives. The teamwork from the F.B.I., U.S. Attorney’s Office, P.A. Attorney General Task Force Members, and Delaware County D.A., was instrumental to bring this case to prosecution.  We encourage those struggling with drug addiction to seek support from the many free resources where they live. Please report “pill mills” or other drug activities to your local authorities so action can be taken.”

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The case was investigated by the Radnor Police Department, the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division. The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth Abrams, and the civil settlement was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony D. Scicchitano.

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