Winnemucca doctor pleads guilty to opioid distribution

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WINNEMUCCA, Nev. (KOLO) - The Vice Chief of Staff for Humboldt County General Hospital in Winnemucca has pleaded guilty to illegally writing prescriptions for narcotics such as the opioids Oxycodone and Hydrocodone, without a medical purpose. That's according to U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich of the District of Nevada.

“Federal law enforcement in Nevada is helping to stem the rising tide of illicit prescriptions in the state,” says Trutanich. “We remain committed to investigating and prosecuting doctors who abuse their position of trust and fuel the opioid epidemic.”

57-year-old Dr. Shouping Li of Winnemucca pleaded guilty to distribution of a controlled substance, specifically Oxycodone and Hydrocodone. He is a licensed physician specializing in family medicine with a concentration in cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Li admitted that between August 2015 and February 2018, he prescribed Oxycodone and Hydrocodone, both opioid pain medications, to patients outside the usual course of his professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. He further admitted that several of his patients passed away while he actively attended to them.

At the June 10, 2019, sentencing hearing, Dr. Li faces the maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000.

The case was investigated by the Tri-County Drug Enforcement Team, Nevada Department of Public Safety, Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, Winnemucca Police Department, Elko Combined Narcotics Unit, Elko Police Department, Elko County Sheriff's Office, and the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

If you have a tip or information about illegal sales or distribution of prescription opioids, including Fentanyl, Oxycodone, and Hydrocodone by doctors and pharmacies, you're asked to call the DEA at 1-877-RX-Abuse (792-2873) or contact the FBI here..

For information about the effects of illicit drug use, visit JustThinkTwice.com for teens and GetSmartAboutDrugs.com for parents, educators, and caregivers.

The Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit is a program that utilizes data to help combat the opioid crisis. The District of Nevada was selected as one of 12 districts nationally to participate in the pilot program. Since its formation, more than seven doctors and medical professionals have been prosecuted in the District of Nevada.