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More Potential Victims Come Forward In East County Physician Abuse Case


About a dozen potential new victims have come forward following the arrest of an East County physician on suspicion of dispensing powerful painkillers to patients without legitimate medical reasons and providing the drugs to addicts in exchange for sex, a federal official said Thursday.

Naga Raja Thota, 62, a board certified anesthesiologist who works as a pain-control specialist, was taken into custody at his El Cajon workplace Wednesday morning. He pleaded not guilty later in the day to charges involving three women who accused him of professional misconduct.

The additional potential victims have since contacted federal authorities, according to Amy Roderick of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Roderick said she could provide no details on those individuals or their allegations.

Thota's arrest came at the conclusion of a several-year investigation, officials said. He is accused of prescribing the alleged victims, ranging in age from early 20s to early 30s, various narcotics, including hydrocodone, methadone and oxycodone, and using his access to the narcotics a way to pressure them into sex acts.

During the defendant's arraignment, Assistant U.S. Attorney Orlando Gutierrez said a 20-year-old patient of Thota's reported that the doctor upped the dosage of a prescription she was taking without telling her and that she felt she couldn't get more of it unless she had sex with the defendant.

Another woman threatened to take allegations of abuse to the DEA, and Thota paid her money not to do so, the prosecutor alleged.

A judge ordered Thota released from custody as long as he posted a $100,000 property bond by Sept. 9.

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for Sept. 13.

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