Doctor on trial for murder in prescription drug overdose deaths of 3 patients

- By Phil Shuman

'It’s been devastating, devastating. Our son was wonderful, he wasn’t perfect none of us are, but we had no problems with him growing up as a teenager.' 

April Rovero was calm and collected as she talked about the death of her youngest son Joey during a court lunch break.  After all it's been almost 6 years since he was found dead at the age of 21 of an overdose of prescription painkillers and alcohol, the day before winter break of his senior year at Arizona State University.  

She said she had no idea he had a problem beyond a little bit pain. She'd seen him just three weeks earlier. Well, she's learned a lot since, about doctors she said who ''over prescribe.''  In fact, in what's believed to be the first prosecution of it's kind in the entire state, the doctor who prescribed the painkillers to Rovero is on trial for his murder. 

Yes, murder, not just of Romero, but of two other young men who apparently traveled quite a way to her Rowland Heights Clinic to get a prescription. What's more, prosecutors believe her practice of prescribing painkillers to those who don't need them, in exchange for a cash payment of say $100 dollars, is responsible for at least 15 deaths. 

Tseng, now 45, in custody since her 2012 arrest, was quiet and seemingly reserved as she sat by her attorney in a smart blue business suit. While prosecutors claim she was a cash hungry killer, the defense said she was a ''conscientious doctor',  ''the kind of person who kept her nose to the grindstone'', who was a 'nerd, with Clark Kent glasses in High School'.    

Rovero isn't buying it.  She understands the ''victims'' in these cases do bear some responsibility for what they did, she thinks if Tseng wouldn't have prescribed the pills so easily his and others deaths would've been prevented.  

In fact, like many cases where parents lose their children suddenly in an unexpected and tragic way, she's trying to turn her grief into action by starting an educational group called  the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, which you can see at www.ncapda.org

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