Federal warrant issued for doctor accused of operating ‘pill mill’

Federal warrant issued for doctor accused of operating ‘pill mill’
Dr. Jong Whan Kim and Tammy Lynn Thompson make their first appearance in court. (Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A federal arrest warrant has been issued for a Columbus County doctor accused in an alleged multimillion-dollar pill-mill scheme.

Dr. Jong Whan Kim and his office manager, Tammy Lynn Thompson, were initially arrested on more than a dozen state charges after a raid of Kim’s Tabor City office on June 29. Officials said the pair had been overprescribing narcotics to patients with no legitimate medical purpose for years.

In September, a federal judge granted a pre-indictment temporary restraining order against assets owned by Kim and Thompson – essentially freezing properties the pair allegedly used in the scheme – pending the outcome of anticipated criminal charges.

On Friday, a special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) filed a criminal complaint against Kim – officially alleging he violated federal law by dispensing quantities of oxycodone, oxycontin, and alprazolam “outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.”

The warrant was also issued on Friday, according to the federal court docket. The specifics of that warrant are not available at this time, as it has yet to be executed and returned. Kim remains in the Columbus County Detention Center, according to jail records.

The case has not yet been brought before a grand jury, which will determine what charges, if any, Kim will be indicted on. Unlike charges at the state level, the federal government is required to use grand juries to formally charge a person with felony crimes.

Many of the facts detailed in the complaint were listed in supporting documents filed with the temporary restraining order. However, the document does provide a clearer picture of Kim’s departure from Cape Fear Valley Bladen County Hospital, where he worked prior to opening his own clinic.

Though he received “acceptable” yearly evaluations during his first 14 years of employment, in December 2016 Kim was counseled by both Cape Fear Valley’s president and chief legal officer regarding his documentation and prescribing habits of controlled substances, according to the complaint.

“As a result of Kim’s counseling, Kim was offered two options: either accept and comply with a corrective action plan or Cape Fear Valley would move towards termination/resignation of Kim’s employment,” the complaint states.

“Due to continued concerns about Kim’s documentation and prescribing patters of controlled substances, Kim resign (sic) on March 31, 2017 from Cape Fear Valley,” the document continues.

Kim opened his Tabor City practice in September 2017. It had only been open four months before the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office initiated its investigation, the complaint indicates.

In September of this year, the N.C. Medical Board entered into an agreement with Kim that essentially prohibits him from practicing medicine, pending the conclusion of the criminal probe and the board’s internal investigation.

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