General Crime

* Dr. Marvin Bonham Charged With Allegedly Illegally Trading Prescription Drugs for Cash

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A top Santa Clara County health plan administrator has been charged with illegally trading prescription drugs for cash and methamphetamine, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said today. According to prosecutors, 61-year-old Dr. Marvin Bonham was a pediatrician with a purely administrative job, but allegedly wrote prescriptions for commonly abused drugs like Oxycontin to 29 adults in less than two years and gave marijuana to minors and offered them methamphetamine. Bonham has been charged with 18 felonies, include possession of methamphetamine for sale, prescribing without legitimate purpose, prescribing to addicts, possession of psilocybin mushrooms, possession of ecstasy and possession of marijuana for sale, the district attorney’s office said.

Until his arrest on Oct. 4, Bonham served as medical director of the Valley Health Plan, the branch of the county hospital system that handles medical insurance, according to prosecutors. “The Hippocratic oath says, first, do no harm. He had the authority and the power because he was being trusted — he violated that trust,” said Narcotic Unit Supervising Deputy District Attorney James Sibley. More than half of the people Bonham wrote prescriptions for had criminal histories and more than a third had been arrested for using or selling drugs before, the district attorney’s office said. Among those Bonham wrote prescriptions for was his roommate, 32-year-old James Schneider, Sibley said.

According to Sibley, Bonham began writing Schneider prescriptions in late 2009. Schneider had a criminal record and is also charged with three drug-related felonies. The case against Bonham resulted from a multi-agency effort led by the Attorney General’s Santa Clara County Specialized Enforcement Team. After serving a warrant at Bonham’s home on Oct. 3, law enforcement officials found weapons, large quantities of methamphetamine, numerous marijuana plants hung to dry in the garage, and ecstasy, the district attorney’s office said.

They also found a marijuana grow room in a crawl space underneath Bonham’s house. Burnt foil and hollowed pens that investigators suspect were used to smoke drugs also littered the house, the district attorney’s office said. Bonham is currently out of custody on $1 million bail and faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. He will be arraigned on Thursday at the 115 Terrain St. courthouse, the district attorney’s office said.

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