A Wichita-area MD and his wife were each reissued long prison sentences last week for their convictions in a wealth-building scam that resulted in at least 68 narcotic overdose deaths. The original trial occurred in 2010. At the end of the case, U.S. District Judge Monti Belot said this:
“Even here today, I don’t think you appreciate all the harm you caused. The deaths, addictions, all to get money. If there was any decent medical care, it pales in comparison.”
Doctor Stephen Schneider, now age 62 and his wife, Linda, age 57, pleaded for mercy as the judge reassessed their original sentences. The re-sentencing was necessary because the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in a similar case last year that a victim’s drug use must be the actual cause of death to impose the harshest punishments on physicians, under the Controlled Substances Act. Because of that ruling, Judge Belot dismissed several of the couple’s original convictions in June.
The judge agreed with the prosecution by once again sentencing the doctor to 30 years in prison and his wife, who functioned as their clinic’s business manager, to 33 years. The same punishment was imposed after the couple was convicted in 2010 of Healthcare Fraud Conspiracy resulting in deaths, Illegal Drug Prescribing, Healthcare Fraud and Money-laundering.
The couple’s clinic in the Wichita suburb of Haysville had seen as many as 2,000 people per month – many already known to law enforcement and other clinics as drug addicts.
Schneider and his wife had argued that they helped those in chronic pain and would see up to 100 patients a day. But investigators proved that the doctor spent almost no time with his so-called ‘patients’; did almost no physical assessments; kept inconsistent, or in some cases no medical records. They learned that Schneider was in the habit of leaving pre-signed prescription notes for staff to hand out when he was not even present in the clinic. Many so-called patients told police it was well-known in the community as “the place to go” for easy drugs.
“It is almost impossible for me to overstate the harm that these people caused to their community,” Judge Belot said. “Sure they are sorry here today. But it is what they did then that counts most.”
Here’s some background on the Schneiders: