Archive for Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pharmacist pleads guilty in painkiller case

June 23, 2009


— A Wichita pharmacist pleaded guilty Monday to trading prescription drugs for services provided to a doctor.

Constance King, 47, wiped her eyes after pleading guilty to two counts of aiding and abetting in the unlawful distribution of controlled substances. As part of her plea, King admitted that she gave a man prescriptions for painkillers as payment for his transporting a vehicle for a Goddard doctor who once worked at a Haysville clinic at the center of a separate case linked by prosecutors to the overdose deaths of 59 patients.

U.S. District Judge Monti Belot scheduled sentencing for Sept. 14. King faces up to 20 years in prison on one count and up to five years on the other, although her sentence is likely to be much less under the plea agreement.

King had faced seven counts in the case against Dr. Lawrence Simons. If the judge accepts the plea deal at sentencing, the remaining charges would be dropped.

“We are just glad that it is over and are going to move on from here,” her defense attorney, John Rapp, told reporters as he and King left the courtroom.

The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment.

In her plea agreement, King admitted she knew the man, identified in court papers only as Herb L., and Simons did not have a physician-patient relationship, as required by law, when she offered the prescriptions as payment for bringing the vehicle from Kansas City to Wichita.

She acknowledged giving Herb L. prescriptions for Oxycontin and Lortab on March 17, 2007. The prescriptions were signed by Simons.

Simons’ trial is set for Aug. 25.

He faces 36 counts, some of which involve allegedly writing prescriptions for people he had never met. None of the criminal counts Simons is charged with involve a patient death.

But Simons is one of the doctors who worked at the Haysville clinic of Dr. Stephen Schneider, who was charged in December 2007 with unlawfully prescribing drugs, leading to 59 patient deaths.

In court filings, defense lawyers for Schneider and his wife, Linda, contend that many of the deaths mentioned in the indictment against Schneider involve patients treated by others who worked at the clinic.

Sedgwick County District Court records show Simons is also named as a defendant in at least six malpractice lawsuits linked to the Schneider Medical Clinic, including one civil case in which Simons is listed as the doctor for a woman whose death prosecutors later charged Schneider with.

The Schneider’s case is in limbo while prosecutors appeal a judge’s ruling limiting it to just four deaths.


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