Dr. Julio “Candyman” Diaz pleaded guilty on January 9 to 11 federal drug-trafficking charges, per a plea agreement he signed and filed in late November. Diaz, 65, will be sentenced in U.S. Central District Court on June 2. Under the deal, he faces 200 years in prison and $10 million in fines for 10 counts of distributing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose and one count of distributing controlled substances to a person under 21 years old. “Mr. Diaz pled guilty because he felt it was in his interest,” said Diaz’s lawyer, Michael Guisti, who added that Diaz — previously under house arrest in Goleta — was taken into custody at a federally approved facility after he pleaded.
Diaz was arrested in January 2012 on charges of overprescribing narcotics and sedatives to his patients — 11 of whom died of overdoses between 2006 and 2011 — following an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Santa Barbara Police Department, and the California Medical Board (which revoked Diaz’s license in November 2012). Authorities have alleged that many of the drugs Diaz prescribed — out of his Family Care Clinic at 510 North Milpas — were sold on the street, often leading to overdoses. Diaz originally pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him; the remaining counts will be dismissed at sentencing, prosecutor Ann Luotto Wolf said.
The 11 charges stem from Diaz’s treatment of three patients. In his agreement, Diaz admitted to doling out a combined 1,600 opiates and sedatives to two patients in late 2010, and 180 to a 20-year-old patient in 2009, and to doing so “outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose,” according to a statement from the U.S. District Central Court. Wolf declined to elaborate on whether the three patients were among the 11 who died. Diaz wasn’t specifically charged with and didn’t specifically admit to causing any deaths, the statement said. Wolf said criminal charges could possibly be brought against Diaz for the 11 fatal overdoses but that those charges wouldn’t be in the federal indictment. District Attorney Joyce Dudley said that no reports were sent to her office and that there is no investigation underway.