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Friday, July 18, 2003



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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kaiser anesthesiologist Peter Edward Fong, left, and his attorney, Brook Hart, left U.S. District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to importing "date rape drug" materials.



Doctor admits
to importing drug

The anesthesiologist says he used
the drug GHB to help him sleep


A Kaiser Permanente anesthesiologist has pleaded guilty to importing controlled substances used to make gamma hydroxibutyric acid, or GHB, better known as the "date rape drug."

Peter Edward Fong, 43, also pleaded guilty to possessing five firearms while being an unlawful user of marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy, certain anaerobic steroids and other controlled substances.

Fong's pleas came yesterday in U.S. District Court as part of an agreement made after he waived indictment by a federal grand jury.

As a condition of the agreement, Fong will have to forfeit his five firearms, one of which was not registered with Honolulu police, and his 1998 black Lexus, which he admitted he used to pick up three packages filled with controlled substances from a private mailbox center in September.

The packages contained gamma hydroxibutyric acid lactone and butanediol, which are chemical solvents classified as controlled substances and can be mixed together to form GHB.

"I ordered analogues (substances with similar chemical structures) of GHB, BD and GBL over the Internet and imported them into the U.S.," Fong admitted to U.S. Magistrate Leslie Kobayashi.

Fong has said he used the drugs to help him sleep. He told federal authorities that he did not know it was illegal to order the drugs.

But as a doctor, Fong should have known such substances were illegal, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Kawahara.

Kawahara said this case surfaced from a national investigation of a Web site where GHB and the solvents were ordered.

The packages came from Canada, according to Kawahara, but the Web site was based in the United States.

The significant matter in this case, said Kawahara, is that "the person who has pleaded guilty is a doctor."

"That is a public concern," he added. When someone of Fong's stature becomes involved in drug abuse, "it's very, very sad."

Fong underwent treatment in a substance abuse rehabilitation center in Oregon last year.

He works in a nonmedical position at Kaiser and "hopes to continue practicing medicine," said his attorney, Brook Hart.

"Dr. Fong has dealt with his situation in a very responsible way," Hart said. "He has addressed his own personal problem very positively."

None of the what happened in this case has "impacted on his competency and ability as a physician," Hart said.

Fong's sentencing hearing is set for Feb. 23. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and/or $1 million in fines for the importation charge, and a maximum of 10 years in prison and/or $250,000 in fines for the firearms charge.

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