Wichita A jailhouse informant told investigators that a nurse charged with her husband of running a "pill mill" tried to obtain false identification to use in case she is released, prosecutors said in a motion filed Friday.
The informant - an inmate with a long criminal history who is incarcerated for forgery and identity theft - claimed Linda Schneider asked her about obtaining a fake birth certificate and Social Security card. The inmate says she offered to create the documents for Schneider for $50,000.
Schneider later allegedly told the inmate that she planned to assume the identity of her sister, Pat Hatcher, and that Hatcher was assisting her, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway said in the filing.
"Oh my God, that is the most absurd thing I heard of," Hatcher said upon learning from The Associated Press of the government's latest allegations. "This is a lie. This is a total lie. ... I would never do anything like this. I would never involve myself in any way, and Linda wouldn't either."
Others questioned how the sisters would be able to arrange an identity swap, since all conversations between them are recorded by jail officials.
"If they have evidence other than a jailhouse snitch that has no credibility, they should present it," said Siobhan Reynolds, president of the Pain Relief Network, a patient advocacy group that supports Schneider and her husband, Dr. Stephen Schneider.
Reynolds called the identification allegations a smoke screen to divert attention from legal challenges to the case.
"This is nothing but unsubstantiated hearsay based on optimistic imaginations of Ms. Treadway," said Lee McMaster, the attorney representing Hatcher.
Linda and Stephen Schneider are charged with conspiracy, unlawful distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death, health care fraud, illegal money transactions and money laundering. The 34-count federal indictment against the Schneiders alleges they directly caused four deaths and contributed to the deaths of 11 other patients. In all, it links their clinic to 56 deaths.
The couple has pleaded not guilty.