Judge upholds sentences for Kansas couple in overdose-linked deaths

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 24, 2015 7:45 PM

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Reuters) - A federal judge in Kansas resentenced a doctor and his wife to three decades in prison on Thursday for illegally distributing pain killers to patients, including 68 who allegedly died of overdoses.

Dr. Stephen Schneider, 62, and Linda Schneider, 57, a nurse, were convicted by a jury in 2010 of conspiracy, unlawful distribution of controlled substances, healthcare fraud and money laundering. They were sentenced to 30 and 33 years, respectively.

However, U.S. District Judge Monti Belot in June threw out the sentences for some of the crimes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that drug use must be the actual cause of death, not merely a contributing factor, to impose maximum penalties.

Belot imposed the same sentences on Thursday at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Wichita against the Schneiders, who ran a clinic in Haysville, Kansas. Both remain in federal custody.

Belot agreed with prosecutors that illegal drug distribution charged in one count had led to the overdose and death of a patient, according to an order he issued on Sept. 15.

That ruling supported Belot's decision on Thursday to reinstate the sentences, said Jim Cross, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Wichita.

During the trial in 2010, prosecutors presented evidence that the Schneiders submitted more than $4 million in fraudulent bills to Medicaid and other insurers, dispensed drugs that had no legitimate medical purpose and used proceeds of their crimes for illegal financial transactions, Cross said.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by David Bailey and Sandra Maler)