Doctor Jailed for Illegally Prescribing Drugs at Starbucks Defends His Actions


Stunning undercover video, which will air for the first time nationally on "20/20" on Friday Nov. 8, revealed the results of the DEA's elaborate eight-month sting operation. Yee was seen in the footage often being flippant, more friend than physician, to undercover agents who posed as patients. With a wink and nod, he was seen writing a prescription for OxyContin and Xanax for an agent who told him her friend was unable to keep her appointment. Yee was also heard telling the agent to keep the illegal transaction between the two of them.

Yee was also seen prescribing painkillers to another undercover agent who admitted being a former heroin addict. When the "patient" told Yee she had been borrowing painkillers from a friend, Yee replied, "You won't be having to bum off of your friends anymore."

Yee admitted to "20/20" that he was wrong to prescribe painkillers for an absentee patient. When asked why he would prescribe painkillers to someone with a history of heroin addiction, the doctor defended his actions saying, "There are some people that, if they're not able to get access to their…pain meds that they…result to other ways of treating it, and sometimes it's heroin, so that's one way I rationalized it."

By September 2011, Yee had relocated his practice out of Starbucks and into his own office space in Irvine, Calif. But it was too little, too late. The DEA had already seen enough. Convinced that Yee was no more than a common drug dealer, the DEA arrested and charged him with 56 counts of prescribing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose.

Dr. Yee's ex-wife, Lila Allen, told "20/20" she stands by Yee, saying, "he's so far from being a criminal it's not even funny."

She refutes comparisons to Yee as a drug dealer, saying her former husband was too trusting of patients, even "gullible", but not a criminal motivated by money.

"I blame him for being-- using poor judgment," Allen said. "I blame him for being naive. ... I still support him ... I know that he had good intentions."

Allen said she would never be with a drug dealer because the loss of her own son who died of a drug overdose, and who was the same age of Tammy Rosas' son Derek.

"I can understand her feelings, totally," Allen said. "And my heart goes out to her."

Just weeks ago, facing trial and possibly life in jail, Yee pleaded guilty to seven counts. A judge sentenced him to 11 years in a federal prison.

"I'll take responsibility for… lapses in judgment," Yee told "20/20."

"You know…everybody makes mistakes, but I never really felt that through all the people that I did help that I would end up completely losing everything most dear to me."

In response to this 20/20 report Starbucks sent along the following statement:

"Starbucks top priority is to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for our customers and partners (employees). We do not tolerate illegal activity of any kind in our stores and are pleased that law enforcement put an end to the illegal activity featured in 20/20's story last Friday."

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