In addition to investigating the overdose deaths, the medical board recently filed a complaint accusing Vu of gross negligence, incompetence, and dishonest and corrupt acts for surgically implanting into a patient an expired medical device he "knew or should have known" was stolen.

In the complaint, filed Feb. 8, the board said Vu bought "spinal cord stimulator leads" and other equipment from a man he knew had been fired by a company called Boston Scientific Corp. He then improperly allowed the man, William Trujillo, to assist in a surgery in which he implanted one of the leads into a patient to see if it would relieve her back and hip pain.

Vu's records list another person as having assisted in the procedure, according to the complaint.

The board said Vu paid Trujillo "a small fraction" of the usual cost for the equipment. The complaint said Huntington Beach police recovered Boston Scientific equipment worth $143,980 from Vu's office.

When officers arrived at his office, Vu initially refused them access. After letting them in, he denied that he had any Boston Scientific equipment — until officers saw a box bearing the company's name, according to the complaint.

Vu "said he had lied to the officers because he was nervous and didn't know his rights," the complaint states.

Vu sued Trujillo in civil court, alleging that he had been duped into spending $15,000 on supposedly "surplus" equipment that turned out to be stolen.

Vu's attorney said it would be unfair to take the medical board complaint, which he characterized as containing false statements, at face value.

"It's just mere allegation right now," Wynn said.

In response to The Times' articles, the leaders of the California Senate and others lawmakers are pushing proposals to give the medical board greater authority to stop reckless prescribing and to require that coroners inform the board of all overdose deaths.

In December, medical board officials appealed to the public to contact them with information about reckless prescribing or other physician misconduct tied to overdose deaths.

scott.glover@latimes.com

lisa.girion@latimes.com