Detroit – A Livonia doctor was indicted and accused of helping fuel the nation’s opioid crisis by writing prescriptions for $18 million worth of powerful drugs that ended up being sold on the street.
Dr. Zongli Chang, 52, was charged in an unsealed indictment Tuesday alongside seven others who helped recruit patients and distribute the drugs, according to federal authorities.
The indictment, which also accuses Chang of health care fraud, was unsealed eight months after the state suspended Chang’s medical license for overprescribing controlled substances.
Chang was arraigned Tuesday in federal court and temporarily held without bond pending a detention hearing Friday.
“Our office has no tolerance for corrupt doctors who are making Michigan’s opioid crisis even worse by unnecessarily prescribing drugs,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement Tuesday. “We will vigorously prosecute those who spread these poisons on our streets.”
The alleged conspiracy dates to January 2012. That’s when Chang and others started illegally distributing controlled substances, including hydrocodone and oxycodone, according to the indictment.
Chang abused his medical license by writing medically unnecessary prescriptions for highly addictive controlled substances in exchange for cash payments, prosecutors allege.
Chang relied on patient recruiters to bring fake patients to his office, according to the government. The recruiters paid cash to acquaintances who received drug prescriptions and sold the medication in Michigan and elsewhere, prosecutors allege.
The patient recruiters charged alongside Chang include:
■Darryl Parker, 56, of Detroit
■Tye Chandler, 26, of Detroit
■Karen Hall, 57, of Detroit
■Deangelo Givhan, 28, of Detroit
■Yolanda Cannon, 39, of Detroit
■Melvin McGuire, 48, of Detroit
■Khary Tremble, 44, of Detroit
During the investigation, federal agents seized more than $603,000 from Chang’s home in Novi. His office was in Livonia.
“The routine manner in which Dr. Chang illegally made medically unnecessary prescription drugs available to co-conspirators who enabled drug abusers to further their addictions will not be tolerated,” David Gelios, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit field division, said in a statement.