Tabor City, North Carolina — A former doctor has been sentenced to more than six years in prison for running a “pill mill” in Columbus County.
John Whan Kim, 75, and his co-defendant Tammy Thomas pleaded guilty Thursday to multiple federal drug trafficking charges.
Kim also had to relinquish all of his medical licenses and is prohibited from practicing medicine again, according to federal court documents.
Kim was forced to resign from a clinic in March 2017 over concerns about his opioid prescribing practices. In October of the same year, he established his own clinic in Tabor City. There, he prescribed controlled substances to anyone who paid him $200 in cash.
“The investigation revealed that Kim often failed to meet basic standards of legitimate medical care,” federal officials wrote in a news release.
According to the US Department of Justice, news of Kim’s “pill mill” spread and patients came from all over North Carolina and other states to get medicine from Kim.
“Kim has written controlled substance prescriptions for virtually every patient he has seen, often despite having no previous medical records, performing an actual physical exam, or he did not consider alternative treatments, and often despite evidence of abuse and misappropriation of the patient.”
In 2018, a federal informant began buying drugs from Kim and recording audio and video. Federal authorities gathered enough evidence to execute a search warrant at Kim’s clinic, and investigators arrested Kim soon after.
Kim dispensed nearly 2 million doses of addictive prescription drugs without giving proper medical attention, according to Robert Murphy, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Atlanta field division.