( 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
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.”
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
Pamela Stone, 54, dies of an accidental overdose of multiple drugs, including an anti-anxiety medication prescribed by Estiandan.
Dec. 13, 2006
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.
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
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
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.
July 12, 2008
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
Byron McKinney, 33, dies of heart disease. A contributing factor was hydrocodone, which Estiandan prescribed.
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.