Pharmacist convicted of distribution of pseudoephedrine to manufacture methamphetamine

A pharmacist who owned and operated the San Jacinto Pharmacy in San Jacinto has been convicted of distribution of pseudoephedrine with the knowledge or reasonable cause to believe that it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Following a three-week trial in United States District Court in Riverside, Jae Gab Kim, 59, of Redlands, was found guilty Friday afternoon of three counts of illegally distributing pseudoephedrine, with knowledge or reasonable cause to believe that it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine, a violation of federal narcotics law.

Kim operated the San Jacinto Pharmacy for more than 20 years until 2003, when he surrendered his California pharmacy license and transferred the business to his son. The evidence at trial showed that Kim had been advised by the California Board of Pharmacy in the late 1990s that there was a significant problem with pseudoephedrine being diverted to the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine. Kim himself had contacted law enforcement officials on a number of occasions in the late 1990s to report individuals he believed were buying pseudoephedrine from his pharmacy to make methamphetamine.

In early 2000, a California state law went into effect that limited sales of pseudoephedrine to 9 grams - or 150 60 mg. pills - per transaction. Though Kim adhered to the letter of the 9-gram-per-transaction limit, his sales of pseudoephedrine skyrocketed more than 20 times during the first seven months of 2000. Kim regularly sold consumers generically labeled, 100-count bottles of 60 mg. pseudoephedrine pills that typically are used by pharmacists to fill prescriptions. His average sales rose to about 24 of these bottles per day. Kim’s former cashier testified that about half the people purchasing a bottle would also purchase two 24-count boxes of 60 mg. pseudoephedrine tablets. Most of these customers who purchased a bottle and packages of pseudoephedrine would buy little else, and some customers bought pseudoephedrine every day or every other day.

The evidence further showed that Kim averaged a $2.60 profit on his average prescription sale, but he made a $6 profit on each of the bottles of pseudoephedrine. Kim sold about 5,000 bottles of 60 mg. 100-count pseudoephedrine in 2000, and the expected $30,000 profit was not reflected on financial statements he proffered in his defense at trial. A representative of Kim’s wholesale distributor testified that approximately 15 other pharmacies in the region had purchased a total of two 60 mg. 100-count bottles during the same time period.

Kim is scheduled to be sentenced on August 2 by United States District Judge Robert J. Timlin. At sentencing, Kim faces a potential sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each count, meaning his maximum possible sentence is 60 years.

The case against Kim is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Group, the California Pharmacy Board and the Allied Riverside Cities Narcotics Enforcement Team, or ARCNET.


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