Pain Medicine: Kansas Doctor and Wife Go on Trial in "Pill Mill" Case

A Kansas doctor and his wife who operated a pain management clinic in Haysville until their arrest by DEA agents in December 2007 went on trial in federal court in Wichita this week. Federal prosecutors charge that Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife and nurse, Linda, ran a "pill mill" that illegally distributed pain-relieving drugs to addicted patients, but the Schneiders and their supporters say he is a compassionate doctor who provided high dose prescriptions to patients suffering from chronic pain because that's what they needed.

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/schneiderbillboard.jpg
PRN billboard defending the Schneiders
The Schneiders are charged under a multi-count indictment with conspiracy to illegally distribute drugs, money laundering, and health care fraud. Prosecutors say 68 of their patients died of drug overdoses and hold them responsible for 21 of those deaths. The Schneiders' attorneys say they were not responsible for any patient deaths.

The Schneiders and their supporters, including the Pain Relief Network, a national pain advocacy group, argue that they ran afoul of an overzealous federal prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney Tanya Treadway, who is improperly prosecuting them for their prescribing decisions. This prosecution, they say, is part of a broader attack on doctors who prescribe high levels of opioid pain medications by the DEA and federal prosecutors.

Treadway has also gone after the Pain Relief Network, first unsuccessfully seeking a gag order to block the group's leader, Siobhan Reynolds, from criticizing the prosecution, and then using an obstruction of justice investigation to demand that Reynolds turn over all documents related to the group's effort in the case. Reynolds initially refused, but relented after a contempt citation and accrued fines of $36,500.

In opening arguments this week in what is expected to be a two-month trial, Assistant US Attorney Treadway portrayed the Schneiders as greedy criminals. "This is a case about money, not medicine," she told jurors. Treadway said prescriptions were dispensed when Schneider was not president (but did not mention that physician assistants employed by the clinic could legally prescribe the drugs). "This caused abuse, overdoses, and deaths," she claimed.

Treadway even used the clinic's architectural style against the Schneiders, comparing its appearance to that of a Mexican restaurant. "And like a Mexican restaurant, people lined up at the door, waiting to get in," the prosecutor said.

But Stephen Schneider's attorney, Lawrence Williamson, likened the government's case the Dan Brown novel, "The Da Vinci Code," calling it "historical fiction." Williamson argued that the Schneiders were taking in Medicaid patients no one else would and billing the government more than any other doctor in the state. "He was costing them too much money," so the government decided to shut him down, the attorney argued.

While Treadway hammered on the 68 deaths among Schneider patients, Williamson pointed out that the practice had cared for more than 10,000 patients and was not aware of the extent of overdoses until federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against them.

Kevin Byers, representing Linda Schneider, who managed the clinic, said the couple were not guilty of the conspiracy charges. "The only thing they conspired in was a marriage," he said. "They ran a business together. That's the only conspiracy."

Stay tuned for more updates on the trial as it progresses.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Jean Boyd's picture

Da Vince Code the

To all good people in Kansas and that does not include you Tanya THreadbare, who is now treading on dangerous ground. May the force be with you Dr. and Mrs. Schneider.
They don't get it that we are dying for their ignorance.
Kind people anywhere in Kansas, click your heel together and say, "There is no place like home"
ANd remember that you are much more powerful than this pathetic prosecutor.
Soon these "prosecutors" will realize what they have done. THEY will hang their heads low and beg you to forgive them.
As I have always said, "We will forgive"
After they have to listen to the stories and the pain they caused. The lives lost.
The poverty.

It is over people. The drug war is over.
Go back and use your common sense.
With a little knowledge.
Walk your way and forget it.

My 20 year old daughter says her generation does not even acknowledge forgiveness.
They just want to live.

You see. No reason to fear in this world. Don't know where you have been but it can not be worse than where you place us in your gutter mind.

Get your mind clear and get outa the gutter\ any prosecutor who still thinks this bad way.
21st Century now.

Who wants to caravan to Kansas to support Siobhan and Schneiders

I am a chronic pain patient and am tired of the nonsense! Anyone think we can get a bunch of people to drive there? Or anyone have a group already going?

I know it will be a difficult trip on many of us but my anger will over this will help me travel

anyone else interested?

Best,
Mary

What a gloriously noble

What a gloriously noble institution the DEA is! Corrupt bastards who engage in every sort of vice--both legal and not--committing treason against our nation by abetting international terrorism and overflowing our prisons with non-violent drug offenders (at least initially until they complete their prison education), at a time when we are indebted to foreign nations for our very economic survival: all in the name of "the war on drugs!" They (the DEA) have: created a cesspool of corruption, engaged in police practices completely antithetical to the mere pretense of "life liberty and the pursuit of happiness," incited carnage domestically and abroad, and in general, degenerated the very sinews of fair and honest government. It's founder, President Nixon, foresaw the very pernicious effects that the establishment of this foul and degenerate institution would have, but sadly gave in to populism. Let's all grow up and proudly say: throw out of the way the obnoxious, corrupt and contemptible DEA!

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