Lopez at the time was medical director of the liver transplant program at Los Angeles' St. Vincent Medical Center, which shut down its liver transplant program in 2005 after the misallocation was uncovered. Lopez's defense attorney, Ken Julian of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, said Lopez continues to practice medicine at various hospitals in the L.A. area.
Lopez was accused of orchestrating a two-year coverup of the effort to bypass a potential transplant recipient near the top of the liver waiting list who was living in Saudi Arabia at the time, in favor of another man who ranked No. 52 on the wait list. The man who received the liver was also a Saudi citizen, though he was living next to the hospital and was in the intensive-care unit, Julian said.
The defense argued that federal prosecutors didn't have jurisdiction in the case, and also that Lopez was being blamed for the sins of many people involved in the misallocation. “There were a lot of hands in this pudding, and Dr. Lopez was essentially the scapegoat for all that went wrong,” Julian said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Beong-Soo Kim, the prosecutor on the case, could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.