A chronology of the investigation

    One doctor, years of warning signs

    More than four years after the Med­ic­al Board of Cali­for­nia began in­vest­ig­at­ing Es­ti­andan, it per­suaded a judge to sus­pend his pre­scrib­ing priv­ileges. By then, eight of his pa­tients had died of over­doses or re­lated causes, ac­cord­ing to cor­on­ers’ re­cords.

    ( Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times )

    Dr. Car­los Es­ti­andan wrote more pre­scrip­tions than the en­tire staffs of some hos­pit­als and took in more than $1 mil­lion a year, ac­cord­ing to court re­cords.

    More than four years after the Med­ic­al Board of Cali­for­nia began in­vest­ig­at­ing Es­ti­andan, it per­suaded a judge to sus­pend his pre­scrib­ing priv­ileges. By then, eight of his pa­tients had died of over­doses or re­lated causes, ac­cord­ing to cor­on­ers’ re­cords.

    Be­low is a look at how in­vest­ig­a­tions in­to his prac­tice un­fol­ded.

    Read the full series: Dy­ing for Re­lief

    Scroll down or use J and K to advance the time log

    Oct. 7, 2004

    An employee of Dr. Carlos Estiandan tells a Medical Board of California investigator that the doctor will give drug-addicted patients “anything they want.”

    Nov. 29, 2004

    Robin Hollis, a medical board investigator, launches an inquiry.

    April 25, 2005

    A California Highway Patrol officer pulls over a motorist on the Harbor Freeway and finds dozens of blank and filled-in prescription forms, some from Estiandan’s prescription pads.

    June 20, 2005

    A Costco pharmacist in Los Angeles complains to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration about Estiandan’s prescription writing and says he has stopped filling the doctor’s prescriptions.

    Aug. 31, 2005

    An undercover sheriff’s narcotics officer poses as a patient and sees Estiandan, who prescribes Vicodin, Soma, Valium and narcotic cough syrup.

    Oct. 28, 2005

    DEA agents stop a man in Albuquerque, N.M., with more than 1,800 painkiller and anti-anxiety pills and six one-pint bottles of narcotic cough syrup. The labels identify Estiandan as the prescribing doctor.

    Feb. 28, 2006

    Police in Ontario seize a package containing bottles of narcotic cough syrup destined for Tennessee, some listing Estiandan as the prescribing doctor.

    March 8, 2006

    Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies arrest a woman with 46 prescriptions written by Estiandan, along with pills and narcotic cough syrup.

    Aug. 11, 2006

    Andrew Corless, a patient, calls Estiandan’s office and leaves a message asking the doctor to “please not see him anymore.” Hours later, he calls with a message “to disregard” the earlier call.

    Sept. 7, 2006

    Border Patrol agents in Texas seize 61 bottles of narcotic cough syrup from a woman from Long Beach. Some list Estiandan as the prescriber.

    Nov. 20, 2006

    Credit: Dept. of Motor Vehicles

    Pamela Stone, 54, dies of an accidental overdose of multiple drugs, including an anti-anxiety medication prescribed by Estiandan.

    Dec. 13, 2006

    Credit: Dept. of Motor Vehicles

    Andrew Corless, 46, dies of drug and alcohol intoxication. Estiandan prescribed two drugs found in his system.

    Jan. 12, 2007

    Authorities, including a medical board investigator, serve a search warrant at Estiandan’s home and offices.

    Feb. 2, 2007

    A medical board investigator interviews Leslie Greenberg, the girlfriend of Andrew Corless. She had complained to the board about Estiandan’s prescribing.

    April 2, 2007

    A medical board investigator learns that prescriptions written by Estiandan are being filled in Kentucky.

    May 4, 2007

    A DEA agent runs Estiandan’s name through DEA databases. Results show that in March 2007, he was the No. 1 prescriber in Southern California, Nevada and Hawaii, and No. 5 in the nation, of controlled substances for cash.

    June 29, 2007

    Credit: Dept. of Motor Vehicles

    Joyce Saldivar, 55, an Estiandan patient, dies of an overdose.

    Sept. 27, 2007

    A medical board expert files an opinion stating that Estiandan’s “extreme departures from the standard of practice” contributed to Andrew Corless’ death.

    Sept. 28, 2007

    A second board expert says Estiandan is unable to distinguish between a patient with chronic pain and an addict.

    Feb. 14, 2008

    Credit: Dept. of Motor Vehicles

    Wilma Jones, 47, an Estiandan patient, dies of pneumonia, with use of hydrocodone and other drugs as contributing factors. Estiandan had prescribed hydrocodone for Jones.

    Feb. 29, 2008

    Authorities interview a man arrested with 19 bottles of narcotic cough syrup. He says he visited Estiandan monthly and sold prescriptions he obtained.

    June 2, 2008

    Credit: Dept. of Motor Vehicles

    Jimmy Miller, 29, chokes to death on his own vomit while intoxicated on three drugs, two of which Estiandan had prescribed.

    June 3, 2008

    Estiandan tells a coroner’s investigator he warned Jimmy Miller the drugs he was taking were potentially addictive.

    June 17, 2008

    Credit: Dept. of Motor Vehicles

    Estiandan patient Christopher Quint, 39, dies of an accidental overdose.

    July 12, 2008

    Credit: Dept. of Motor Vehicles

    Alexandre Dergan, 48, dies of an accidental overdose of alcohol and hydrocodone, which Estiandan had prescribed.

    July 23, 2008

    Estiandan is arrested and charged with 13 felony counts of illegally prescribing controlled substances.

    Nov. 18, 2008

    Credit: Dept. of Motor Vehicles

    Byron McKinney, 33, dies of heart disease. A contributing factor was hydrocodone, which Estiandan prescribed.

    Feb. 10, 2009

    The medical board files a complaint against Estiandan, seeking to revoke his license.

    Feb. 18, 2009

    At the request of the medical board, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge orders Estiandan to stop prescribing controlled substances.

    Sept. 9, 2009

    Estiandan surrenders his medical license.

    March 15, 2010

    A jury convicts Estiandan of all counts.

    July 7, 2010

    Estiandan is sentenced to five years in prison.

    September 2012

    Estiandan is released.

    Published: Dec. 9, 2012
    Sources: Court documents, Medical Board of California documents, interviews, coroners' records
    Credits: Hailey Branson-Potts, Maloy Moore, TimelineSetter
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