NEWTON — A pharmacist accused of drawing blood from people for a bogus study pleaded guilty Friday to 16 counts of battery but may not serve any jail time.
Corey Penner, 29, appeared in Harvey County District Court on 31 counts of misdemeanor battery that involved conning people into being participants in a blood-pressure health study that police said didn't exist.
The other charges were dismissed, a clerk with the Harvey County Attorney's office said.
Harvey County Attorney Matt Treaster called the plea agreement the right thing to do. Penner must undergo a mental evaluation as part of the deal.
Penner told the people whose blood he took that it was for research, but even his lawyer has said there was no study. Penner's attorney, Jim Gillmore, has said Penner can't explain why he took the blood and that Penner was seeking help from mental health professionals.
Police said Penner drew blood samples and took blood pressure readings from about 50 people during the past 11 years.
The victims willingly gave the blood and some received up to $20 for it. But authorities said that because the tests involved touching and fraud, the incidents met one definition of battery.
A misdemeanor battery charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. But Treaster recommended to the judge that Penner serve no jail time, just a two-year probation. Sentencing was set for April 19.
Penner has been suspended from his pharmacy job at a Dillons store and has agreed not to practice pharmacy while the Kansas State Board of Pharmacy investigates. The board is scheduled to meet April 4 to discuss the status of Penner's license, which has been suspended.
The procedures were done in cars in the parking lot at one Dillons store, at Penner's home, at volunteers' homes, in the back room of a downtown Dillons pharmacy after business hours, and in the basement of a church.
A small amount of blood, probably less than a vial, was drawn from each person, Treaster has said. No license is required to draw blood.