Irvine, CA – A California dermatologist is facing the possibility of more than eight years behind bars after she allegedly poisoned her husband with drain-cleaner-laced tea on multiple occasions last summer, according to prosecutors.
Dr. Jack Chen, a 53-year-old radiologist, told investigators he began noticing a strange taste in his tea in early April of 2022, NBC News reported.
Chen said that when the issue continued, he decided to set up a camera in his kitchen to see if there was any reason why the flavor of his drink was so unusual.
According to Orange County District Attorney Tod Spitzer, the camera caught Chen’s wife of 10 years, 45-year-old Yue “Emily” Yu, “pouring a substance out of a bottle of liquid drain cleaner into her husband’s tea that was left on the counter” on three separate occasions, NBC News reported.
Chen, who allegedly suffered ulcers from consuming the tainted tea prior to knowing he was allegedly being poisoned, took a sample of the beverage to the Irvine Police Department (IPD) after he watched the footage.
The IPD passed the sample to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where investigators “confirmed the substance was consistent with liquid drain cleaner,” Spitzer’s office said.
Yu was arrested in August of 2022 on suspicion of poisoning, NBC News reported.
She spent one day in jail before being released on a $30,000 bond.
Spitzer’s office announced on Wednesday that the dermatologist has been indicted on one felony count of domestic battery with corporal injury and three felony counts of poisoning, NBC News reported.
The district attorney described the contaminant Yu allegedly used as a “Draino-like substance,” and said she did so with the intent to “cause him pain and suffering.”
Yu faces up to eight years and eight months in prison if she is convicted.
The indictment also requires Yu to “self-report” her pending criminal charges to the Medical Board of California, “which will determine whether she will be allowed to continue to practice medicine,” Spitzer said.
Her arraignment is scheduled for April 18, according to KTLA.
Chen’s attorney, Steven Hittelman, said his client was pleased to learn of the indictment, NBC News reported.
“We are satisfied that the grand jury saw the evidence and made the decision that we believe is the appropriate decision and this is another step in getting a horrible turn of events resolved,” Hittelman said.
David Wohl, the attorney who was representing Yu up until recently, previously said she “vehemently and unequivocally denies ever attempting to poison her husband or anyone else,” NBC News reported.
The couple has been in a child custody dispute since 2022 and their divorce is still pending, according to the news outlet.
Yu’s current attorney, Scott Simmons, said his client is innocent and that they can explain what was really happening in the video clips, KTLA reported.
Simmons said he believes Chen misinterpreted what occurred to help him get a better position in the couple’s pending divorce proceedings.
“If you thought you were being poisoned, would you go to a divorce attorney before going to the hospital or police?” Simmons asked, according to KTLA. “Drano is not a covert poisoning agent. It has a strong smell and taste and is highly caustic. Dr. Yu is looking forward to her day in court when the truth will finally come out.”
Yu is currently only allowed supervised visits with their children, ages eight and nine, due to an active domestic violence restraining order against her, NBC News reported.
“Both children have suffered physical, verbal and emotional abuse by their mother… and their maternal grandmother,” Chen alleged in the request for the restraining order.
Yu recently filed a motion requesting Chen be required to support her financially due to work problems she has allegedly experienced since he levied the poisoning allegations against her, NBC News reported.
A Providence Mission Hospital spokesperson previously confirmed Yu works for the Mission Heritage Medical Group.