A doctor convicted in a bombing that nearly killed the Arkansas Medical Board's chief was sentenced to life in prison Monday after the injured physician said he believed the attack was revenge for revoking the man's license to prescribe narcotics.
Randeep Mann's defense lawyers vowed to appeal and insisted their client was innocent during the hearing in U.S. District Court in Little Rock. Prosecutors said Mann was responsible for a bomb left outside Dr. Trent Pierce's home in West Memphis in 2009, after the medical board suspended Mann's license following the overdose deaths of some of his patients.
Pierce urged the judge for a harsh sentence, saying the bombing was "revenge for decisions I participated in on the Medical Board" and aimed at intimidating other members. He noted the bombing left him blind in one eye and with limited vision in the other, and deaf in one ear. The force of the bomb also severed his olfactory nerve, taking away his sense of smell.
"People who serve the common good should have no fear," said Pierce, who remains at the state board's helm. "Dr. Mann's attack on me was an attack on a public official."
Mann didn't speak after U.S. District Judge Brian Miller handed down the sentence. Mann's wife, who was convicted of obstruction, was sentenced to a year in prison.
Prosecutors said more people may be charged in the case.
Mann, who ran a pain clinic in Russellville, was convicted last year on charges including using a weapon of mass destruction with intent to kill. Investigators determined that the explosion outside Pierce's home came from a grenade rigged inside a spare tire.
Mann was arrested about a month after the February 2009 bombing, but on weapons charges. Investigators said they found nearly 100 grenades and a tremendous cache of machine guns and ammunition at or near Mann's home, though almost all of the firearms were legally registered. It took almost a year for agents to build their case against Mann, who was indicted in January 2010 for the bombing.
Mann also was convicted on charges related to obstruction, damaging Pierce's vehicle, and illegal possession of 98 grenades and a machine gun. He received separate prison terms on those charges.
Blake Hendrix, one of Mann's attorneys, said evidence was not sufficient for a conviction and the government stacked too many charges together.
"We just want a fair jury trial," Hendrix said.
Mann's wife, Sangeeta Mann, also didn't make a statement when she was sentenced on two obstruction-related charges, but the judge allowed her to remain free while she appeals her conviction. She faced up to 20 years in prison, but Miller noted that she moved financial documents at the behest of her husband that ultimately didn't have a bearing on the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Duke said after the hearing that the sentencing closed only a chapter in the case.
"It was always the theory of this case that another individual or individuals" were involved, Duke said. "We will not rest until everyone is brought to justice."
During the trial, a prisoner who befriended Randeep Mann at the Pulaski County Jail testified that Mann tried to pay him to kill Pierce because the bomb failed to do so. The inmate, Steven Briscoe, said Mann wanted him to finish the job because "Dan did not do a good enough job the first time," referring to Mann's grown son. The son has not been charged.
Miller agreed to recommend that Mann be placed in a medical facility because he has disabling back problems from a motorcycle crash about 15 years ago, but the Bureau of Prisons will have the final say on where Mann serves his time.
Hendrix said Mann expected the life sentence.
"He is ready to move on," Hendrix said, noting that Mann has been in solitary confinement "for over a year" in the Pulaski County Jail.
The government is seeking $1.7 million in restitution from Mann to cover Pierce's losses after the doctor was forced to greatly scale back his medical practice.