This story is an update. To read the initial posting, click here.
LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A former doctor who operated a medical clinic in Lynwood was sentenced today to five years behind bars for issuing prescriptions for powerful narcotics and sedatives without a medical purpose to mostly young ``patients'' who sometimes traveled more than 100 miles to see him.
Edward Ridgill, who has homes in Whittier and Newbury Park, was found guilty in December of more than two dozen felony counts of illegally distributing controlled substances. Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge S. James Otero to sentence the 65-year-old ex-physician to more than eight years behind bars, while the defense argued for probation and a year of home incarceration.
Evidence presented during a weeklong trial in downtown Los Angeles showed that Ridgill illegally prescribed the federally controlled opiate painkiller Norco, the sedative Xanax and the muscle relaxer Soma. The three-pill combination -- known to drug abusers as the ``trinity'' -- produces a powerful high, a federal agent testified.Prosecutors presented evidence from a California database that tracks prescriptions and confirmed Ridgill's ``predatory prescribing,'' according to court documents that describe young ``patients'' traveling from Victorville, Palmdale and Desert Hot Springs to purchase prescriptions.
The jury heard that, in 2014 alone, Ridgill wrote nearly 9,000 prescriptions, and 95 percent of those were for Norco, Xanax and Soma, typically for the maximum strength.``The combination of these three drugs is the most sought-after drug cocktail on the black market, and one for which there is no legitimate medical purpose,'' prosecutors said in a court filing.
Agents executed federal search warrants on Ridgill's homes and medical office on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in March 2015, recovering multiple pre-written prescriptions for controlled substances. Cash was also found lining patient files and stuffed in drawers containing those files.
Defense attorney David Joseph Sutton unsuccessfully argued that although his client may have cut corners in his practice, Ridgill was not dealing drugs.``The government's theory is that he abandoned his intent to act like a medical doctor and instead became a common drug dealer,'' Sutton told the jury last winter.
``Bad medicine is not drug dealing.''