updated 6/23/2005 6:45:54 AM ET 2005-06-23T10:45:54

California taxpayers helped pay for Viagra and other impotence drugs for at least 137 registered sex offenders in the past year, the state Attorney General’s office said.

An audit found that Medi-Cal — the state Medicaid agency that funds some health services programs for California’s poor — spent $2.6 million to provide 5,855 men with Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs, including 137 men who were registered sex offenders, Nathan Barankin, spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer, said Wednesday.

Lockyer’s office received a list of Medi-Cal-funded Viagra recipients from the Department of Health Services and ran that list against the men whose whereabouts are registered with local law enforcement, Barankin said.

Last month, under federal pressure to prevent sex offenders from obtaining taxpayer-funded Viagra, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger directed state agencies to stop providing such ex-convicts with erectile dysfunction drugs.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services even warned it might cut federal funding for states that do not make serious efforts to cut convicted sex offenders off from these drugs.

State authorities across the country have been searching their databases after a New York state audit showed that 198 sex offenders there received government-reimbursed Viagra between January 2000 and March 2005.

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