Tabor City, N.C. — A former doctor was sentenced to more than six years in prison for running a “pill mill” in Columbus County.
75-year-old John Whan Kim and his co-defendant Tammy Thomas pled guilty Thursday to multiple federal drug trafficking charges.
Kim was also required to give up all his medical licenses and is banned from ever practicing medicine again, according to federal court documents.
Kim was forced to resign from a clinic in March of 2017 for concerns over his prescribing practices around opioids. In October of that same year, he established his own clinic in Tabor City. There, he prescribed controlled substances to anyone who would pay him $200 cash.
“The investigation revealed that Kim often failed to meet the basic standards of legitimate medical care,” federal officials wrote in a press release.
Word spread of Kim’s “pill mill,” and patients came from across North Carolina and other states to get drugs from Kim, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Kim wrote controlled substance prescriptions to virtually every patient he saw, often despite not having a patient’s prior medical records, not conducting a real physical examination or considering alternative treatments, and often despite having evidence of patient misuse and diversion.”
In 2018, a federal informant started purchasing drugs from Kim and recording audio and video. Federal officials gathered enough evidence to execute a search warrant at Kim’s clinic and investigators arrested Kim shortly after.
Kim handed out nearly 2 million doses of addictive prescription medications without giving proper medical care, according to Robert Murphy, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Atlanta Field Division.