Archive for Friday, October 8, 2010

Prosecutors want life sentences for Kansas couple accused of overdoses at clinic

October 8, 2010

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— Prosecutors have asked a federal judge to put a Kansas doctor and his wife behind bars for life for operating a clinic linked to dozens of patient overdose deaths.

In a court document filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Wichita, prosecutors asked Judge Monti Belot to impose life prison sentences on Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda Schneider. Four of the most serious counts the Schneiders were convicted of carry minimum sentences of 20 years behind bars, and prosecutors asked Belot to impose those sentences consecutively.

Their sentencing is Oct. 19.

A federal jury in June found the Haysville couple guilty of unlawfully prescribing drugs, health care fraud and money laundering following a nearly eight-week trial. A federal jury convicted them of a moneymaking conspiracy that prosecutors linked to 68 overdose deaths.

The government noted in its filing that jurors found the Schneiders’ conduct resulted in serious bodily injury to 14 individuals, and the deaths of 10 patients.

“If this were a serial murder case, instead of a drug dispensing and health care fraud case, there would be no question that life sentences should be imposed,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway wrote. “The Court should consider the dire consequences of the defendants’ crimes, regardless of the type of crimes they committed.”

Attorney Lawrence Williamson, who represents the doctor, said the defense does not believe the couple should be sentenced to life in prison and plans to ask the judge for the minimum sentence he can give them. He noted the 57-year-old doctor had never been in trouble with the law before this case.

“There is undisputed evidence that he was trying to help people and I think that is an important factor that we hope the court takes into consideration,” Williamson said.

In addition to conspiracy, the Schneiders also were found guilty on five counts of unlawfully writing prescriptions and 11 health care fraud counts. They also faced 17 money laundering counts. Stephen Schneider was found guilty on two of those counts; Linda Schneider was found guilty of 15 money laundering charges.

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