"We are dealing with people's lives who have been abusing their bodies," Lira said this month. "The physician should be, must be, involved in the care that is being provided to each and every patient."
The Osteopathic Medical Board of California investigated her complaint and closed it without action in 2010.
The main knock on Oliver, though, was that he has worked for more clinics than he could supervise adequately.
Lira's letter put Oliver's 2007 caseload at 69 clinic locations -- including satellite offices -- serving 2,256 patients. The director of L.A. County's substance abuse programs had written to Lira for help, saying that Oliver worked for 35 clinics there and that "it is not conceivable that one person can serve in this capacity and render satisfactory services to so many programs at one time."
The next year, Lira's department and the state Department of Health Care Services decided to conduct a joint investigation. Regulators had discovered that Oliver was scheduled to be at multiple clinics at the same time, according to a spokesman for the health care services agency.
Stating that Oliver was "suspected of violating (his) fiduciary and medical responsibilities," officials obtained a court order for patient records. But the project was put on hold due to a change in state management and never restarted, according to the health care services department.
State officials had tangled with Oliver before. Back in 2002, when Oliver provided podiatry services to disabled residents of group homes, Medi-Cal authorities cut him off for billing for patients who had been treated by another doctor.
Oliver called it a billing error; the state called it "reliable evidence of fraud or willful misrepresentation."
The state controller also determined in a 2003 audit that nearly half of his claims, or $165,000, were questionable. Oliver succeeded in overturning some of the findings and ended up having to pay back $15,000, according to state records.
After years of fighting, he felt vindicated. "What I do is ethical," he said. "And I'm honest."
Although Oliver was suspended from billing Medi-Cal himself, nothing stopped him from working as a contractor for clinics that bill the program. That suspension was lifted in 2006, but Oliver hasn't signed up to be a Medi-Cal provider since then.
As a result, state officials have limited authority over Oliver, said health care services spokesman Norman Williams. That will change next year, he said, when health care reform will require medical directors to enroll as Medi-Cal providers.
"We are concerned with any aspect of fraud and abuse in the Drug Medi-Cal program, including by medical directors," Williams said in a statement.
Crisscrossing the Los Angeles basin, Oliver visits each Medi-Cal clinic twice a month, he said. The pay varies by clinic, but one 2010 contract promised him $1,500 for four hours of work per month, or $375 an hour.
It is not his only income. Oliver runs an occupational medicine clinic in the High Desert, performs the occasional autopsy for a company called 1-800-Autopsy and has opined on high-profile deaths for CNN's sister network HLN. His training in forensic pathology dates back to a postgraduate residency with the L.A. County coroner's office in 1990.
More recently, Oliver said he received a certificate in drug and alcohol counseling from California State University, Dominguez Hills. He became a member of the California Society of Addiction Medicine this month, two days before a CIR and CNN interview.
Just before the state's anti-fraud sweep of clinic shutdowns in July, Oliver said investigators with the Department of Health Care Services quizzed him about his many clinics. But Oliver said he was told he was not under investigation.
One of the state's suspension letters went to West Coast Counseling Center in Long Beach. It was where Oliver previously had taken CIR and CNN reporters to tour what he considered a good clinic.
The letter, however, identified a problem repeated in letters delivered to other clinics where Oliver works: "a lack of medical oversight."