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.