“There has never been a case like this in the State of Montana.” (Ravalli County D.A. Thorin Geist)
In the city of Hamilton Montana a physician has been arrested on 400 felony charges, including two counts of homicide.
In his first appearance in Ravalli County District Court, Doctor Chris Christensen, age 67, pleaded not guilty to all charges on Tuesday, September 1. In addition to the two Negligent Homicide charges, the physician will have to defend himself against a stunning 389 counts of Narcotic Distribution and nine more charges of Criminal Endangerment.
Christensen, a family medicine specialist, was handcuffed and taken to jail last week at his home after an investigation that began 15 months ago, when a drug task force raided his medical office in April. According to Ravalli County District Attorney, the doctor routinely wrote illegal prescriptions to patients with no medical need, over a three-year time-frame that started in July 2011.
Two of his patients from Missoula overdosed on methadone and died. The first was 43-year-old Kara Philbrick-Lenker and the second was Gregg Griffin, age 38.
After examining evidence from the raid on the clinic, investigators learned the doctor’s illegal drug business was bringing in between $12,000-$15,000 a week – all cash.
“These types of crimes are becoming more common throughout the country.” (Special Agent Barbara Roach, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration)
Prosecutor Thorin Geist advised the court that the criminal investigation will involve the medical records of nearly 5,000 patients.
According to the Montana Board of Medical Examiners, Christensen may continue seeing patients, although the Drug Enforcement Administration reports he may not prescribe narcotics.
The doctor, who graduated from UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, will return to court on October 28.
Here’s another look: