Pharmacist caught with ice, prohibited weapon

The Pharmacy Board has issued a statement about a pharmacist who diverted S8s and supplied ice

The Board outlined the case of Daniel Soong, the former part owner of two pharmacies in Moe, in Victoria’s LaTrobe Valley, who was charged with a range of serious drug offences.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard that the Board was first advised of Mr Soong’s behaviour by Victoria Police in December 2014.

On 6 February 2015 the police advised the Board that Mr Soong had been charged with a range of serious drug offences.

Following these charges, the Board took immediate action against Mr Soong and accepted an undertaking from him that he would, among other things, not practise as a pharmacist and would not enter the premise of any pharmacy or pharmacy department unless in the presence of another registered pharmacist.

The Board’s investigation was placed on hold pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

On 30 November 2018, Mr Soong pleaded guilty and was convicted of 12 charges in the County Court of Victoria. The court found that between 4 February 2014 and January 2016 Mr Soong committed 10 indictable offences, including, possessing and trafficking drugs of dependence, failing to keep appropriate records and falsifying records in relation to Schedule 8 poisons.

On this day he also pleaded guilty to more charges including possessing a prohibited weapon – namely, nunchaku.  

It also found that on 4 February 2015, Mr Soong committed a summary offence in that he unlawfully possessed Schedule 4 poisons.

Following the conclusion of the criminal proceedings, the Board recommenced their investigation into Mr Soong, and on 27 June 2019 referred the matter to the tribunal, having formed a reasonable belief that Mr Soong’s conduct constituted professional misconduct.

At the 2020 VCAT hearing, some of the details of the offences were outlined.

For example, between June 2014 and February 2015, Mr Soong appropriated S8s from the two pharmacies he owned, on 14 separate occasions.

He would do this by dispensing S8 medicines to customers at the Albert Street, Moe pharmacy and then deleting notes that the drugs had been dispensed, and failing to record that the balance of S8s in the pharmacy had been reduced.

He would then fax the customer’s original script to the more suburban Elizabeth Street pharmacy, requesting it be dispensed, as if for the first time.

Mr Soong removed labels from these medicines and failed to record that they had been received.

In February 2014, police searched the Albert Street store and found several S8s which were not secured according to regulations.

These included nearly a litre of Biodone Forte, nine two-milligram films of Suboxone and 18 8mg films of Suboxone unsecured on a benchtop/sink.

There were two boxes of Suboxone 2mg films in an unlocked cupboard under the sink, and 140 Physeptone tablets sitting on a dispensary shelf.

The Tribunal also heard about a man who was arrested by police after visiting the pharmacist’s home, and was found to be carrying methylamphetamine, or ice.

It was revealed that Mr Soong had been texting this man and had offered to supply him with diazepam in exchange for the illicit drug, a transaction that then took place. On two more occasions, Mr Soong supplied the man with ice.

In February 2015, a police search of Mr Soong’s home unearthed two snap-lock bags containing methylamphetamine; a small orange container containing remnants of cocaine; a bowl containing cannabis; and various S4s.

As well as the 12 charges he was convicted on in November 2018, he had a history of convictions, the Tribunal heard.

In April 2018 he had pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis and methylamphetamine, and was found guilty without conviction; he also pleaded guilty that day to driving while his authorisation was suspended on two occasions and committing an indictable offence while on bail.

In October 2018 he had also pleaded guilty to burglary and theft offences committed in April 2018 plus committing an indictable offence while on bail.

Also in October 2018 he pleaded guilty to charges around handling, receiving and/or retaining stolen goods, and dealing with property suspected of being the proceeds of crime, in May 2017.

The Board notes that Mr Soong’s registration lapsed in February 2016, and he had not practised for five years and five months.

It also noted that he spend 199 days of imprisonment, had cooperated with the Board’s investigation and had given the undertaking not to practise immediately when the matters came to light.

The Tribunal noted that its order was not to punish but to protect the public, to act as deterrent, and to protect the reputation of the profession.

It found that Mr Soong had had behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct.

The Tribunal ordered that Mr Soong be reprimanded and disqualified from applying for registration as a registered health practitioner for three years from 19 June 2020.

If Mr Soong seeks re-registration after the period of disqualification, he will need to satisfy the Board that re-registration is appropriate.

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