PALMDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- An Antelope Valley doctor is accused of writing out opioid prescriptions to patients he had little contact with. His arrest followed an undercover investigation by federal agents posing as patients.
Federal agents arrested Dr. Raphael Tomas Malikian, 36, at his Palmdale residence last week. He's accused of having an online medical practice, called Happy Family Medicine, in which he prescribed potent prescription medication to patients with little to no examination.
An indictment naming Malikian was unsealed at his arraignment Thursday, when Malikian entered not guilty pleas and a federal magistrate judge in Los Angeles ordered him detained pending trial, which is currently scheduled for Oct. 5.
"He's being charged in an 11-count indictment for distribution of controlled substances," said Mike Davis, an associate special agent in charge with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Davis says Malikian would spend as little as 2.5 minutes with a patient in a teleconference before peddling prescriptions for potent medications.
"Oxycodone, hydrocodone, alprazolam and promethazine with codeine, and all of this was done outside of the usual course of professional practice, without a legitimate medical reason," Davis said.
Davis says multiple agencies were part of the investigation into Malikian, including undercover federal agents posing as patients of the doctor.
"It was a one-and-a-half-year investigation that we conducted along with the California Department of Justice and Bureau of Medicare Fraud and Elder Abuse," Davis said.
Federal detectives say the California Medical Board and multiple pharmacies alerted the DEA about the doctor's alleged shady online medical practice. They say what the doctor is accused of doing is widespread and for patients and can obviously be deadly. As to whether any patients overdosed from opioids prescribed by the doctor... it's not certain.
"I'm not aware of any individuals who, you know, possibly overdosed or got hurt, but when you're alleged to be prescribing oxycodone, hydrocodone, promethazine, these are all drugs that are highly addictive, and in L.A. County, we've had over 2,300 drug related deaths in calendar year 2020 and nationwide, over 93,000. So, you know, this arrest demonstrates our commitment to keeping the public safe and preventing overdose deaths," Davis said.
A DEA investigator reviewed patient records maintained by Malikian, which showed that he saw patients across the United States and that about 43% of them shared common addresses, email addresses, caregivers'' or phone numbers with other patients, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
According to the affidavit, one of those patients was a convicted narcotics trafficker and another was stopped at Los Angeles International Airport while carrying more than $19,000 in cash and about 1,764 hydrocodone and alprazolam pills.
City News Service contributed to this report.