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Jun-24-2010 20:50printcomments

Schneiders Guilty!!!

"Justice has nothing to do with what goes on in a courtroom -- Justice is what comes out of a courtroom" (Clarence Darrow, Lawyer and Writer)

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Just because something is printed does not mean its true.

(WICHITA, Kansas) - A federal jury today found a Kansas former doctor and his nurse wife guilty of conspiring to profit from illegally prescribing painkillers to dozens of patients who later died.

Marianne Skolek

Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda, were charged in a 34-count indictment with the unlawful dispensing of drugs, health care fraud and money laundering. Jurors convicted them of moneymaking conspiracy that prosecutors linked to 68 overdose deaths. They were directly charged in 21 of the deaths.

During their eight-week trial, prosecutors told jurors the Schneiders defrauded insurers and patients by carelessly writing prescriptions for highly addictive painkillers to people with complaints of pain -- but also to drug abusers who feigned symptoms.

The Schneiders also were found guilty on five counts of unlawfully writing prescriptions and 11 health care fraud counts. Stephen Schneider was found guilty on two of those counts and Linda Schneider was found guilty of 15 money laundering charges.

Although no date has been set for sentencing, the Schneiders face up to a life sentence, with the most serious counts carrying a minimum of 20 years in prison with no possibility of parole.

When the verdict was read, Schneider turned to face his wife in disbelief when the first guilty verdict on conspiracy to commit health care fraud was read -- then both stared down despondently as the rest of the 17-page verdict form was read. The couple hugged in the courtroom shortly before they were taken into custody.

"The evidence in this case of patients suffering from overdose and death points to the fact that when prescription pain killers are unlawfully prescribed, they can be as dangerous as illegal drugs," U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch said in a statement.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway prosecuted the case.

Schneider's attorney, Lawrence Williamson, appeared teary and red-eyed as he left the courtroom.

"We are absolutely shocked," Williamson said outside the courthouse. "These two people are totally innocent of these charges."  Williamson called it "a sad day for our justice system today."  The defense plans to appeal.  "Dr. Schneider was practicing medicine — he wasn't being a drug dealer," Williamson said.

The Schneiders defense has been supported by an advocacy group that represents chronic pain sufferers, who it contends are neglected by doctors and "harassed by law enforcement". "This is really a civil rights issue," says Siobhan Reynolds, president of the Pain Relief Network. "Those who need pain treatment are criminalized, abused and treated as subhuman," she said.

"The crisis in pain treatment is going to deepen even further,"  Reynolds said outside the courtroom. "People are going to have trouble getting care because doctors are afraid this is going to happen to them."

The Pain Relief Network is one of Purdue Pharma's "poster children".  Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has long used the marketing term "the undertreatment of pain in the United States" through the pain agencies they keep well funded. 

Siobhan Reynolds was quoted in written testimony to the U.S. Senate on "Evaluating the Propriety and Adequacy of the OxyContin Criminal Settlement" after Purdue Pharma was criminally convicted in US Federal Court in 2007 of misleading physicians and patients as to the addictive and abusive qualities of their multi-billion dollar drug, OxyContin as saying --

"One only need look at what happened to the Arthur Andersen Corporation in 2005 to understand the overwhelming force exerted by the USDOJ and why millionaire executives of a company as large as Purdue might plead guilty to crimes they may not have actually committed.  For when the USDOJ seeks to get its way, the law be damned, and with it all of the political freedoms our country was supposed to further and protect.  What's worse, no one at the legislative branch appears to have been minding the store.  Purdue would have faced the same fate as Arthur Anderson if they'd taken the government on, whether they were guilty or not."

I'm sure I am speaking for family members throughout the United States and Canada who have lost loved ones to death and addiction because of unethical pill mills dispensing opioids such as OxyContin in saying -- May the Purdue Pharmas, their financially rewarded pain societies and doctors without a conscience -- who over-prescribe opioids meet the same fate as Arthur Anderson -- with the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Drug Administration biting at their heels.

This article written as a "billboard sign" for those who lost their voice, but were still heard.

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The Series:

Jun-16-2010: Schneiders Fate in the Hands of the Jury - Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com

Jun-11-2010: Schneider Trial Week 7Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com

Jun-09-2010: Tumbling Tumbleweeds - a Continuing Look at the Schneider Trial in Kansas - Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com

May-29-2010: Schneider Trial - Week 5 - Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com

May-23-2010: Schneider Trial - Week 4 - Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com

May-16-2010: Week 3 - Stephen Schneider Trial - Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com

May-13-2010: American Pain Society's 29th Annual Scientific Meeting - Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com

May-08-2010: Week Two of the Schneider Trial - Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com

May-02-2010: Week 1 of Pill Mill Doc Trial in Wichita, Kansas - Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com

Salem-News.com Reporter Marianne Skolek, is an Activist for Victims of OxyContin throughout the United States and Canada. In July 2007, she testified against Purdue Pharma in Federal Court in Virginia at the sentencing of their three CEO's who pled guilty to charges of marketing OxyContin as less likely to be addictive or abused to physicians and patients. She also testified against Purdue Pharma at a Judiciary Hearing of the U.S. Senate in July 2007. Marianne works with government agencies and private attorneys in having a voice for her daughter Jill, who died in 2002 after being prescribed OxyContin, as well as the voice for scores of victims of OxyContin. She has been involved in her work for the past 7-1/2 years and is currently working on a book that exposes Purdue Pharma for their continued criminal marketing of OxyContin.

Marianne is a nurse having graduated in 1991 as president of her graduating class. She also has a Paralegal certification. Marianne served on a Community Service Board for the Courier News, a Gannet newspaper in NJ writing articles predominantly regarding AIDS patients and their emotional issues. She was awarded a Community Service Award in 1993 by the Hunterdon County, NJ HIV/AIDS Task Force in recognition of and appreciation for the donated time, energy and love in facilitating a Support Group for persons with HIV/AIDS.

You can send Marianne an email at:mskolek@aol.com

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Lynn Locascio June 28, 2010 6:16 am (Pacific time)

As always, you are so right on, thanks again for another great article...

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