GULFPORT (WLOX) -- A federal judge denied bond Thursday afternoon for two doctors and a pharmacist who are accused of illegally distributing large amounts of prescription narcotics from their business on Division Street.
During a two hour hearing in federal court, an undercover agent testified the alleged narcotics operation could be linked to nine overdose deaths.
The accused include Dr. Thomas Trieu and his wife, Dr. Victoria Van, pharmacist Nick Tran and officer manager Richard Trieu, who worked in his brother's clinic.
Thursday's testimony described the Family Medical Clinic as a place where patients had no difficulty getting the drugs they wanted.
All four defendants pleaded "not guilty."
The lead investigator for the Drug Enforcement Administration painted a picture of doctors who performed only cursory medical exams at best and readily wrote hundreds of prescriptions for controlled narcotics, prescriptions that were conveniently filled at the pharmacy next door.
In denying bond, Judge Roper agreed with the prosecution that the defendants are "flight risks" with connections overseas and potential access to large sums of cash.
The lead investigator told the court how he and other undercover agents easily obtained narcotics prescriptions from Dr. Thomas Trieu, often without any physical exam.
Agent Terry Davis testified that Dr.Trieu admitted during an interview with investigators that he "did not perform adequate medical exams" and knew what he was doing was "primarily for financial gain."
The lead investigator also told the court that a man from Mobile would frequently bring carloads of patients to the clinic to have prescriptions for narcotic cough syrup written and filled.
He said the $12 to $15 bottles of medicine could be resold for more than $250 on the street.
Gulfport attorney Eddie Miller listened to the testimony with a heavy heart. His son, 29-year-old Matt Miller, died from an drug overdose during Thanksgiving week in 2005. Matthew got some of his drugs from Dr. Trieu's Division Street clinic.
"On November the 21st, 2005, he had a prescription filled at Dr. Trieu's office. He was given 80 Zanax. Less than two days later, on Wednesday morning, November the 23rd, 2005, he was found dead on the floor with four Zanax left in the bottle," said Miller.
Family and friends of the defendants also attended the initial court appearance. Lloyd Levine says the Dr. Trieu he knows is not the criminal described in court.
"I think he's an awesome guy. Dr. Trieu and his wife. They're wonderful family people," said Levine.
Dr. Thomas Trieu's attorney, James Farrier, had little comment after his client was ordered held without bond.
"Well, we were hoping for a release. But we understand the court's ruling," he told a reporter.
Judge Roper set a trial date for August 18th.