Puliafito used drugs on days he saw patients, report says

Photo courtesy of USC

Former Keck School of Medicine Dean Carmen Puliafito saw patients on days when he had used illegal drugs, according to a Medical Board of California report made public on Wednesday.

The report found that Puliafito consumed heroin, methamphetamines and other drugs on a recurring basis while at the Health Sciences Campus and at other locations. The report also detailed that he gave drugs to a teenager and a recovering addict.

In a story published in July, the teenager told the Los Angeles Times he visited Puliafito in his suite at USC, who then proceeded to smoke meth in a campus parking lot with the then-17-year-old.

“Until July of this year no university leader was aware of any illegal or illicit behavior by Carmen Puliafito and to date there have been no issues or complaints related to patient care,” USC spokesperson Charles Sipkins told the Times in a statement on Wednesday. “Once the university was aware of his illicit behavior, he was immediately removed from his patient care role and he is no longer employed by the university.”

State investigators also found that Puliafito had written prescriptions for a 22-year-old woman and her sister. The woman also told investigators that Puliafito helped cover some of her rehabilitation costs, and the LA Times reported that he would mail her drugs in packets of Skittles candy. She also said that he brought her meth in a sunglasses case in one instance.

The state investigation stated that Puliafito had a secret compartment in his car where he kept drugs. Puliafito had been banned from certain hotels in Pasadena and other locations “as a result of unruly conduct and behavior, including room damage due to drug use,” the filing claimed.

This investigation comes after the Los Angeles Times originally reported in July that the dean had surrounded himself with criminals and had consumed drugs while serving as dean of Keck.

Following a series of follow-up reports by the Times, Puliafito had his medical license suspended by the Medical Board of California and was banned from campus and its medical facilities. The University has also launched an independent investigation led by law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.