“Schneider the Writer” sentenced to 30 years

Kansas doctor and his wife sentenced to 66 years for operating a pill mill.

Yesterday U.S. District Court Judge Monti Belot sentenced Dr. Stephen Schneider to 30 years in prison and his wife Linda Schneider to 33 years in prison, in what Judge Belot called an “unavoidable tragedy motivated by greed.” Judge Belot told Dr. Schneider that the evidence showed that he had earned the nickname “Schneider the Writer” because often his only form of medical care consisted of writing prescriptions.

 

 

 

Judge Belot also criticized Mrs. Schneider, who served as office manager for the pill mill, emphasizing her culpability for creating and perpetuating the clinic as a generator of income, not as a place for competent medical care. The judge’s apparent view of Mrs. Schneider as the mastermind of the clinic, coupled with her additional convictions of money laundering (15 over Stephen Schneider’s two), may have led to her harsher sentence.

Given the number of deaths linked to this case, the government asked for a life sentence. The defense asked for the minimum mandatory 20 years in prison.

A jury found the Schneiders guilty on five counts of unlawfully writing prescriptions and 11 health care fraud counts; Linda Schneider guilty of 15 money laundering charges, and Stephen Schneider guilty of two. The jury found that the Schneiders’ conduct resulted in serious bodily injury to 14 people, and the deaths of 10 patients.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway has demonstrated that through tenacity, hard work, and courage, it is possible to bring pill pushers to justice, even if the pill pusher happens to have an "M.D." behind their name. I hope that more prosecutors will follow her example. With more prosecutions like this one, we can take a step closer to deterring doctors and those who conspire with them from writing prescriptions solely for their own personal financial gain.

 

 

 

 

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Money Before Medicine

Schneider duo found guilty of operating pill mill.

On its seventh day of deliberations, a federal jury on Thursday, June 24 found Kansas  doctor Stephen Schneider and his nurse wife Linda Schneider guilty of conspiring to profit from illegally prescribing painkillers to patients, many of whom later died. The jury also found the Schneiders guilty on five counts of unlawfully writing prescriptions and on 11 health care fraud counts. The jury found Linda Schneider guilty of 15 money laundering charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway prosecuted the case, which consumed eight weeks of trial. In a 34-count indictment, the Schneiders were charged with conspiring to illegally distribute prescription drugs that contributed to 21 deaths, fraud, and money laundering. The prosecution put on evidence of 176 overdoses and 68 deaths related to the pill mill.

This was a case of “money before medicine,” Tanya Treadway said. According to the prosecution, about half of the 10,000 patients treated at the Schneider Medical Clinic received pain medication. The clinic was open 11 hours a day every day, had 14 exam rooms and  scheduled patients 10 minutes apart.  Prosecutors allege the clinic made $7 million in a little over four years through health care fraud. The Schneiders pocketed about $1.5 million. The prosecution put on evidence of 176 overdoses and 68 deaths related to the pill mill.

Dr. Schneider’s attorney, reportedly supported by the advocacy group Pain Relief Network that advocates for the right to pain treatment, argued that Dr. Schneider acted “with a pure heart.” He said that “what [Dr. Schneider] did with his patients, he did so innocently, he did so honestly, and he did so courageously.”

 

Curiously, Dr. Schneider chose to drive a bright yellow hummer emblazoned with skull and crossbones to and from the pill mill on a daily basis. I wonder what kind of message he was trying to send? Was he  in a state of deep denial or did he have  so little fear of ever being prosecuted for his pill peddling that he felt bulletproof? We will probably never know, but I am sure the vehicle represents to the victims everything that was wrong with the Schneiders and their so called medical practice.

Sentencing has not yet been set. The Schneiders could face up to a life sentence.  The Schneiders also will stand trial in several civil wrongful death lawsuits which have been filed against them.
 

 We applaud the courage of Tanya Treadway in stepping up to the plate to prosecute this case.  It takes hard work and effort to bring persons such as these to justice.  Prosecutions such as these must continue to happen. Pill mill operators need to go to jail  just like persons who peddle street drugs go to jail. Pill mill operators must also be held liable for monetary damages for the devastation that they are causing while lining their pockets with blood money.Hopefully, the combination of vigorous criminal and civil prosecution will stem the tide of prescription drug overdose deaths.
 

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