NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCN) — A former North Carolina doctor who ran a “pill mill” where he took cash in exchange for prescriptions for nearly 2 million doses of opioids and other drugs will spend more than six years in federal prison.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday that John Whan Kim, 75, received a 78-month sentence after pleading guilty in December to multiple drug charges, including conspiracy to unlawfully distribute a quantity of oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and marijuana.
He was made to give up his medical license and is barred from practicing medicine again.
Prosecutors say Kim — who was forced out of a medical practice in 2017 over concerns about overprescribing opioids — opened his own clinic in Tabor City, where from October 2017 to June 2018 he unlawfully and improperly prescribed opioids to people who paid $200 cash at each appointment and wrote prescriptions to “virtually every patient he saw.”
The USDOJ says so many people — from both in the state and outside of it — flooded Tabor City to pick up prescriptions from Kim that it caused safety concerns for the nearby elementary school that restricted outdoor activities until a privacy fence could be built.
A confidential source made a series of controlled purchases from Kim and co-defendant Tammy Thompson in January 2018, and they were arrested that June.
“When Dr. Kim dispensed nearly 2 million doses of addictive prescription medications under the guise of a doctor’s care, it was not about the good of the community or an individual’s specific health needs — it was about his selfishness and greed,” said Robert J. Murphy, the special agent in charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division.
Thompson pleaded guilty to multiple counts and is scheduled to be sentenced later this year.