A Santa Barbara doctor that several patients referred to as the candy man because he so easily prescribed painkillers and other frequently mistreated narcotics, pleaded guilty Thursday to federal drug charges. Sixty five year old Julio Diaz pleaded guilty to eleven counts of drug dealing, starting from prescriptions written from his storefront office. As a part of the plea, the doctor admitted prescribing drugs to patients who had no genuine medical need for them. Diaz is planned to be sentenced in June and was taken into custody after the trial in the Santa Ana U.S. District Court.
According to a Times examination of the coroner’s reports, a minimum of seventeen of Diaz’s patients died of overdoses or associated causes. Authorities connected the doctor to a dozen deaths in a search warrant affidavit filed when they searched his office two years ago. Before Diaz was arrested he said in an interview that he was aware of only one fatal overdose within his practice. After being presented coroner’s reports on his patients, he acknowledged multiple deaths and said he shared guilt in some of them. He stated that he did feel responsible and that he was the one prescribing the medications and possibly there were some indications there that he should have recognized they were going to overdose. He says that looking back now; the overdoses gave him a good lesson.
There were many different people who died such as: a thirty five year old mother found dead in her bedroom by her daughter, who was hosting a friend for a sleepover; a forty nine year old father who overdosed on painkillers just after finishing a sixty day drug rehab; an out-of-work county bus driver who was fighting depression overdosed on painkillers and other drugs. The family members of some of his patients and other doctors had protested about Diaz to the state medical board for years prior to his arrest.
Julio Diaz defined himself as a caring family physician that progressively developed a pain practice to meet the necessities of patients who had trouble finding help somewhere else. Diaz was not charged with any patient deaths. Filing such charges is complex by numerous factors, including patients finding drugs from multiple doctors, mixing prescription drugs with illegal drugs, and having preexisting medical conditions that contribute to their demise, said Wolf the prosecutor. In Diaz’s case, she said, the drug dealing counts alone are likely to result in a justified and reasonable sentence. He faces a legislative maximum of two-hundred years, though he is probable to get far less time.
In my opinion, Diaz should definitely get the maximum sentence because he was assisting these drug addicts by giving them their pain medications when clearly they shouldn’t have had it. He said he was helping them because they couldn’t get them anywhere else; when in all reality there is a reason they couldn’t get it anywhere else! As a doctor he should have known better. It isn’t entirely his fault because as a drug addict you are going to find what you’re looking for anywhere, he just made it a lot easier for them. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.