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Overprescribing doctor convicted of murder in opioid overdoses

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A California doctor has been convicted of second-degree murder for providing “massive quantities” of opioid medications to patients who died after taking the narcotics, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

A jury found Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng of Rowland Heights, California, guilty Friday of 19 counts of unlawful controlled substance prescription and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, among other charges, the district attorney's office said in a statement.

The verdict is the first time nationwide that a physician has been convicted of murder for overprescribing prescription drugs, according to the Friday statement.

Dr. Tseng's conviction was based on the deaths of Vu Nguyen, 28, Steven Ogle, 24, and Joseph Rovero, 21, all of whom died of prescription drug overdoses in 2009. The attorney's office said Dr. Tseng prescribed “massive quantities of addictive and dangerous drugs” to the three men, though they had “no legitimate need” for narcotic prescriptions.

The attorney's office said nine of Dr. Tseng's patients died in less than three years, and that her storefront medical office generated $5 million in revenue driven by her narcotic prescriptions.

“This verdict sends a strong message to individuals in the medical community who put patients at risk for their own financial gain,” Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement. “In this case, the doctor stole the lives of three young people in her misguided effort to get rich quick.”