17 May 2004 – LAWFUEL – 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
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.