Pill Mill Doctor and Wife Go to Jail

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A federal judge Wednesday convicted Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife Linda Schneider from Kansas for unlawfully writing prescriptions, health care fraud and money laundering. Jurors convicted them of a moneymaking conspiracy that prosecutors linked to 68 overdose deaths.

A court document filed Saturday by defense attorneys in the case of Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda, argues unduly harsh sentences are likely to discourage doctors to prescribe controlled drugs for fear their patients will mislead them or not use medications as directed. The defense also argued excessive sentences would deter other physicians from accepting government-sponsored insurance that involves complex billing procedures fraught with human error.

"Pill mill" clinics come in all shapes and sizes and more are being disguised as independent pain-management centers. This is causing a great addiction problem to people who suffer pain.

Stephen Schneider's attorney said is client is holding up "as well as could be expected." Linda's attorney said he didn't understand why the judge bought into the theory that she was the manipulator. The judge had harsh words for the two before handing down his sentence. He called Schneider deserving of the nickname "Schneider the Writer", because his medical care seemed to be based on writing prescriptions. The judge also called Linda a "scheming, manipulative, uncaring criminal".

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This case and conviction may bring more attention to the problem of pill mills. These mills are going up everywhere. Among the statistics about pain clinics a new one opens in Florida every three days and doctors in Broward Florida alone dispense nearly 10 million oxycodone pills a year.

The U.S. District Judge Monti Belot told the 57-year-old physician that the evidence showed that he earned and deserved the nickname "Schneider the Writer" because in many cases writing scripts was his only form of medical care. "For whatever reason, Steven Schneider utterly failed to live up to his oath to 'do no harm,'" Belot said.

The judge used the phrases "Bozo the Clown" and "ship of fools" to describe the outfit and said he hoped the outcome would help curtail its activities. When the people leading it are "so stupid that they support what occurred in this case, they demean the efforts of legitimate medical providers to help persons suffering from chronic pain," the judge said.

"The Schneiders put money before medicine," U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a news release. "They illegally dispensed prescription pain killers without a medical purpose and without regard to the fact their patients were suffering from physical and mental conditions that made them vulnerable to the risks of addiction, overdose and death."

Belot gave Linda Schneider 33 years in prison and Stephen Schneider 30 years for their practices of prescribing painkillers at their Haysville clinic. Stephen Schneider is 57; Linda Schneider is 52. There is no parole from federal prison.

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