Pain Management: Kansas Doctor, Wife Convicted in Controversial Prescribing Case

In a case that illustrates the hazards physicians face when fulfilling their duty to relieve patients' pain, a federal jury yesterday found Kansas pain management physician Dr. Stephen Schneider and his nurse wife Linda guilty of conspiring to profit from illegally prescribing pain relief medications to patients, dozens of whom died.

The couple had been charged in a 34-count indictment with illegally dispensing drugs, health care fraud, and money laundering. Jurors found them guilty of a conspiracy linked -- however tenuously -- to some 68 deaths. Prosecutors portrayed the couple as money-hungry pill pushers who not only wrote prescriptions for those in severe pain but also for drug abusers who faked their symptoms.

"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," US Attorney Lanny Welch said in a statement.

Attorneys for the Schneiders and pain relief advocates had a different take. "We are absolutely shocked," Dr. Schneider's attorney Lawrence Williamson said outside the courthouse. "These two people are totally innocent of these charges." Saying it was "a sad day for our justice system today," Williamson added that an appeal was planned. "Dr. Schneider was practicing medicine -- he wasn't being a drug dealer," Williamson said.

Both husband and wife were found guilty on five counts of illegally writing prescriptions and 11 counts of health care fraud. They also faced 17 money laundering counts. Stephen Schneider was found guilty of two of them and Linda Schneider was found guilty of 15 of them.

The couple was taken into custody after the verdicts were read. They face mandatory minimum sentences of 20 years on the most serious counts and could be sentenced to life in prison. The judge in the case has not yet decided whether to go ahead with seizing their assets.

Siobhan Reynolds, head of the patient and doctor advocacy group the Pain Relief Network, which had championed the Schneiders' cause, was also present for the verdict. "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."

Schneider had testified that he was only trying to help patients in pain and that he had been deceived by some of them. He also said he had never meant to hurt or defraud anyone.

Defense attorneys for the pair had argued that the government was meddling in doctor-patient relationships and that the government had overinflated the deaths attributable to Schneider's prescribing by including patients who committed suicide, patients who took illegal drugs, patients he had never seen or had treated months before their deaths, and patients who died while the couple was in jail.

Federal authorities have prosecuted hundreds of pain management physicians in the last decade, throwing what advocates say is a pall over pain management and deepening what they say is a crisis in chronic pain treatment. Now, the Schneiders and the patients they will not be able to help are the latest martyrs in the battle for chronic pain treatment.

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pain management

Well, thanks to this is hard enough to find an honest, empathetic. compassionate doctor to take care of the millions of people in this country to suffer from chronic pain.
I am a chronic pain patient, I have intractable pain from 2 failed spinal fusions, now named "failed back syndrome".
These kind of stories make me ill, it puts more pressure on the doctors who do prescribe opiates, which is live saving!

Shame on this doctor.

borden's picture

Not sure why you are blaming

Not sure why you are blaming this doctor, he is one of the brave who did provide pain medication to the underserved who needed it. Now he (and his wife, the nurse) are paying the price for helping. Shame on the government, not the doctor.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Chronic pain

All I can say is I was married to a man who went crazy on me.First I got shot in the back and then run off the road and hit a tree head on(broke most of the bones on my right side,thank God the gunshot was on the left).7 years later no one will help me with this unbearable pain,I do intend on leaving the doctor's a note about how horrible it is not to have helped me,that is before I kill myself,that is what it will take for them to know I could not handle the pain any longer!!!Oh and yes I got a divorce...

DR. Lawrence M. Simons,M.D.

I actually feel sorry for Dr. Lawrence M. Simons who was a doctor at the Schneiders clinic,but was fired for not doing what they wanted him to do,which was improper! He was then coerced by his so called attorney, Jay Greeno and spent 2 years in federal prison! To this day, he can not get his medical license back because of a verdict by judge Monti Belot, who quotes from Shakespeare! If you are that old, you should be dead and buried!! Dr. Simons lost his two children,and his own life because of these so called lawyers and prosecutors who are all in it together if you ask my personal opinion!! They wouldn't give him a lie detector test at the time of the arrest  and kept threatening him if he did not plead guilty! Dr. Simons only mistake which was a mighty big one was believing in the government that they help the people,I'm sorry but I've contacted the local chapter of ACLU and the one in Washington,D.C. and I did not so much as get a response from any of these people! I've worked with DR.Simons in the past and known him for 12 years and NOT once did he ever do anything that was out of the realm of medicine. He would not be that stupid to risk everything he had by doing something illegal!! I also would like to know why the other people who worked there, that stole his prescription pad, forged his name and wrote these illegal scripts DID NOT even get a slap on the hand? Tell me these people are NOT all in it together? Please, the whole town sounds corrupt if you ask me!!  Is there anybody out in this world that is honest anymore, sorry to say I don't think so! People will prosecute their own mother if it means getting a good name for themselves and getting money!! I feel sorry for these low lifes that take an oath and then disregard it because of money or a name! Yeah, I got a name for all of you, but have more respect in myself to say it!! The government is a big joke anymore!! I personally feel that the rest of these people should be rounded up and put on trial, the scripts are there in black and white to see they are not written by Dr. Simons,maybe Monti Belot needs a magnifying glass to see them better!! Or better yet,Judge Belot  knew that Dr. Simons was INNOCENT,but wouldn't admit that he screwed up and looked bad, so came down on Dr. Simons with this bogus  claim that he was guilty!!! And then to register as a drug offender, please,Dr. Simons is NO drug offender or street drug seller!! If he was, what happened to all of his money that he made? Good question to ponder,huh? Maybe it's time for Monti boy to retire and as for the others scumbags,who are a bunch of liars,the county of Wichita needs to clean up or better yet, send them to Phila, Pa. to see how real officials handle things!!

Lawrence Martin Simons

This is the same person that I stood by and wrote the article from 5/1/12, but in a year, my opinion of him has changed very much. I was the only friend he had or so I thought a friend, but then almost a year ago, he was out on his own with my help, I even lent him a very large sum of money which he agreed to pay me back monthly,which since he was to be transferred to my home in Pa. I thought I would get this money back. Well one year later, I still haven't received a penny nor do I have any communication with Larry. He really screwed me over big time and the worst part is, I can't do a thing about it. Have contacted lawyers in Kansas, who told me he is a con and I won't see my money!! I am very angry that he has done this to me, because I was the ONLY one that helped him. If only I knew then, what kind of a person he is, he wouldn't have gotten a penny!! After reading all he has done, he deserves to be locked up in Federal prison for many years!!! He stole the money that my deceased mother had left to me,wow,how low can u get!! Someone who was once very well respected in the working community is now a low life felon! All I can say is with the help of my prayers, and God, Karma kicked his butt and big time!! Just wish I could get my money back, but that is never going to happen I realize now!! But he got what he deserved!!! He taught me one thing though, Never trust anyone again! Thank You! Larry Simons!!!

Pain Doctors

 I have chronic back pain for 2 spine surgeries and breaking my back. You would not believe me if I told how many pain pill a month I got for over 18 years. These pain doctors ruined my Life. I lost my Wife my children my job of 30 years. I'm now looking at jail for D U I 'S for driving while taken very strong pain meds. Getting off of pain meds was the best thing I did for myself. It's really said that I had to wait until I lost everything in life before I got off of pain meds and believe me It was hard I was on such a large amount of methadone that no rehab would take me. Live with the pain. Pain pills really don't help after a few years. You all know what I'm Talking about. We Loved the high from the drugs. Be honest about the whole thing.

Pain Meds

I am not agreeing with pain medicine doctors, but it was your choice to take these medications, they didn't shove them down your throat. If you didn't want to take the medications, there were other options to take. I know because I had a failed back surgery in 2006, constant pain since then and now severe right leg pain for over a year down my right leg. I went and saw a pain doctor and 2 epidurals,etc. He suggested medication because the epis didn't work, I said no meds, so he suggested several other treatments. I have tried chiropractors, hypnosis, but will suffer in pain until I find the right answer. Any one with common sense knows that you will have to increase the medication once you reach your tolerance level!! 

Anonymous Pain management

Did you even read the story ? The doctor was helping (trying to) people with pain, just like you described that you experience.

I dont see how you can say SHAME ON THIS DOCTOR. If anything you should say shame on the people who fraudently put doctors in the position by lying to them to obtain pain medication when they dont have any pain.


The shame is all in the government's corner. I too have been accused. Luckily, it was the medical board that took my license. Now, I don't have to worry about going to jail for trying to give chronic pain patients compassionate care. The fifteen years, I spent in college, graduate school, medical school and residency, was all a big waste of time and money!

Ironically, I am and MD with chronic pain, who will not see one doctor for pain management. What good will it do if they shut your doctor down?

And, you are right about doctors getting more pressure. But, the pressure is from the government telling them how to practice medicine. They encourage avoiding the use of opiates or other pain medications for chronic pain treatment. The cops at the DEA tell your doctors how to treat!? Now what is wrong with this situation. Lack of eduction to qualify them as experts, for one! There is no physician/patient relationship.

It is the government/physician/patient relationship, now!

It really makes me mad, especially when I see my 75 year old mother suffer in pain because the doctors she sees are afraid to adequately treat the pain. She has to use a walker to get around. She is under care and still cannot get out of bed some days because of the lack of real treatment! So much for the land of the free and home of the brave.

Your disgust, at the doctor, is mis-directed! I followed the case closely. Especially, when they tried to fine the PRN lady for advocating for their pain patients, who the government and the cops didn't give a tinker's damn about! The government and their ignorance is what I detest!

And don't forget..Your doctor could be the next victim of the feds. Then, where will YOU go?!

Is it possible to set up a

Is it possible to set up a non-profit pain relief clinic? Wrapped inside a 501c and simply paying a salary to the doctors?


It would take a few months for the feds to shut it down! You won't find too many doctors willing to risk their career for patients. The ones who have, are ending up like this doctor and his wife! Most, doctors, have gotten the message, by now!

God bless Amerika

[email protected],Vancouver,B.C.CanadaWhile I admit we had a purge in B.C. it was more in the nature of clearing the way for the college of physicians and surgeons to monopolize the methadone market,which they did by arresting some doctors and putting the fear of god into the rest.Doctors who felt an obligation to keep a few long term patients were allowed to continue for a year but then they were out.There were a few doctors who were taken to court but these were also methadone doctors who also prescribed other narcotics to addicts who were trying to stay off methadone and away from heroin.I guess that showed them that wouldn't be tolerated.I had to suffer horrendous pain for four years until I went through the hoops and got into a pain clinic but the program has been to prevent any possible abuse of the medication to the detriment of my health and well being.My current methadone doctor is fighting like hell to keep me on methadone despite my pleas to be taken off the horrible drug.That it interferes with my pain medications eludes him completely,which just shows how much these doctors are taught about the drugs they prescribe.Rather than be facing prison I'm sure this doctor is the victim of the insane drug war mentality that has Amerika in a death grip.I thank my lucky stars every day for the 49th parallel.

The sad thing is, for many

The sad thing is, for many pain patients, they are forced to go on the street and buy street drugs, because it is virtually impossible to get adequate treatment "the legal way". I know many people who have been forced to do this, others pretend to be actual drug addicts to get themselves into a methadone or buprenorphine program...and of course there's plenty of examples of patients considering and even completing suicide because they can't tolerate the pain anymore. But the stories, I hear are all the same...People with issues like HIV/AIDS, painful neurological disorders, accidents resulting in metal hardware holding together their bodies, cancer and so on. People with these types of serious conditions do not "fake illness to get drugs" cannot "fake" being a cancer patient, you cannot "fake" having a serious accident and having metal holding together your bones, you cannot "fake" having a neurological disorder that causes your body to twitch in pain, but still most patients will have their pain downplayed and even belittled and/or accused of "faking"...In our "drug war climate" virtually no one, even with documented diseases and plenty of evidence of pain, is able to get adequate treatment from a doctor. The desperation from the pain that you will feel in this type of situation is enough to force anyone into a dangerous situation where you will consider something illegal to obtain medicine, or even suicide. This is an absolute travesty, but it is all too common, and I think the vast majority of doctors are in denial about it...but they still do exactly what the government wants by denying patients medicine out of fear...I don't know what else patients can do in this type of situation except be forced to suffer even's not like we can go out and protest on the street when we are sitting in our beds writhing in pain!

I read this recently...seems fairly accurate to me (from Dr. DeLuca's blog "Chronic Pain: Politically Incorrect Disease": )

Chronic Pain

I am an MMAR Cardholder for medical Cannabis in Canada. I also happen to be HIV+ and I have neuropathic pain, severe nausea, chronic pain due to arthritis on my neck impinging on the spinal cord. I have had Cat scans and xrays and lots of other incontrovertable evidence of my pain. Even with that, I have to deal with a Doctor that has had no training in Cannabis medicine, wanting to get me to take the pill form instead BECAUSE OF HER COMFORT LEVEL. Doctors are trained to see medicine in terms of uniform doses. Whole plant medicines like Cannabis do not come with standardized doses of THC/CBD( and the other compounds).

Up here in Canada we have a Prime Minister that has some twisted religious reason for declaring genocide on a sub-culture of Canadian citizens. The fact that he has Minority support does not deter him from attacking anything to do with Cannabis. The MMAR was set up to fail as far as I can tell. His government has fought tooth and nail every single change to loosen up the MMAR so it can help the most number of people. Even when faced with Court battles and always losing(more government waste of money fighting it's own citizen's wishes) the Government does the abosolute least it is forced to do to make the changes. Now we are facing a 3 month waiting period for the MMAR to process the application. Guess what folks, from the last numbers they gave out, they only processed around 5000 applications IN ALL OF CANADA!!! I keep on saying hire me, I will get through any back log in days or weeks, not months. I feel that the PM has a direct hand in this mess since it stinks to high heaven. I have directly emailed Health Canada asking how many people are currently hired to process the applications. They have not replied. I mean no offense to the government workers following orders, but lets get real here just how many people does it take to process that many applications? If they are not doing their job then they should be fired(unless the order has come from above, then I feel sorry for them)

The MMAR was set up because the government was forced to allow access to medicinal Cannabis through the now famous Parker case. It was set up WITHOUT ANY input from the endusers. There was NO TRAINING for the doctors that would bear the brunt of the intial inquiries. They did how ever consult with law enforcement to make sure that those old Grandma's in wheelchairs do not break the law when they use their medicine. It is a sick joke that us patients live with everyday. I say if you are going to have a system set up, why not do it correctly? Compassion clubs have started up to fill a need that the MMAR refuses to deal with and the saints that are forced to break a bad law in order to help a client are getting shut down and a tossed in Jail. I have given up hope that Dictator Harper could be reasoned with. Our collective hope is to get Harper out of office and replaced with a real Prime Minister that is for the people, not big business interests only ( yes I do understand that most politicians are forced to go to the teat of big business in order to get the money to get things done so no flames about me being naive) Don't get me started on Marc Emery and the Government's selling out of our sovereignty. FREE MARC EMERY NOW!!!

Doctor and wife sentenced to jail time.

What worry's me about this Dr. is the amount on people who died. There should have more investigation about that to clear his name. If a doctor has medical proof such as a MRI,CT.Scan etc. Or knowing the persons medical background by his medical charts he should be able to prescribe pain killers. He should take urine tests to see if they are misuseing the meds. and only prescribe what they need. He should not have a problem with distributing narcotics. If he should just take the word of someone walking in his office he will get into trouble.

Opiate Medicine

I feel sorry for the Doctors, everywhere. Every one of them has to deal with patients who are just drug seeking. I really hate those patients - stop it!!! You are messing everything up for the ones who really need opiates, and who use them responsibly [like me].

The two most effective, and least problematic, of the opiate type drugs are MORPHINE and HEROIN [clean heroin, not stepped on street heroin].

The PharmaGiants, and their minions in the Medical Colleges [doctors bosses], have been trying to get every opiate patient onto "other opiates", which are cheaper to produce and therefore bring in bigger profits. The patient's well being has no bearing on their agenda!!

Some of these industry favored opiates are produced without the actual poppy plant, just made in a lab, such as Oxycodone. It is not like morphine, it has done much more harm than morphine. Some Colleges are starting to admit this now, and are stopping their pushing it.

The other favorite of the PharmaGiants is Methadone. It does NOT control pain well for most people, and it is MUCH harder to withdraw from. It harms the body, stripping the bones of whatever. It constipates worse than other opiates, and people actually DIE of constipation [because doctors don't consider it much of a problem, and because they do not regularly scan for impacted colons until it is too late].

RE: Anonymous

I feel sorry for the Doctors, everywhere. Every one of them has to deal with patients who are merely drug seeking. I really hate those patients - stop it!!! You are messing everything up for the ones who really need opiates, and who use them responsibly [like me].
Could not have said it better.
You have no idea just how bad the pain is and how we cry because we are unable to get the relief we need, how some of us have either attempted or succeeded in suicide because the pain is so horrific. Most have families that we love and that love us and need us yet we are unable to play much of a part in this family because we are wreched in so much pain. My two daughters who are now in their mid twentys grew up starting in 1st grade with a mom who most of the time could not get off the floor. I only wished the DEA could comprehend this.
Thank you ~

Ten years ago i had no

Ten years ago i had no choice but to start using heroine to treat the horrific pain i suffered after a verious serious truck accident in Indonesia hwere I nearly became a paraplegic..There was not a single Doctor in Sydney who would prescribe me with adequate pain medication..Now thanks to this insane war on drugs I was forced to seek pain medication in the illegal drugs market..America started this war on drugs to focus peoples attention away form how they are really destroying and plundering the world..As well as by making opites illegal it has made them extremely expensive so all corrupt politicians and law enforcement officials are the only ones making the huge profits form this illegal drugs market.

Dr. Schneider

I think that is a shame that Dr. Schneider and his wife were demonized. I live in Wichita, Ks and went to their clinic right before he was victimized by our government. I had to submit a UA and sign a contract. After learning from someone that they were going to be charged, I did not go back but instead went to my family doctor. Needless to say after they were charged, my family doctor dropped me because the government sent a letter to my family doctor stating that I had been to Dr. Schneider's clinic. My family doctor dropped me and I went through withdrawals because I could not find a doctor here that would prescribe pain medications. I am not a drug-seeker, I  have had 2 failed back surgeries and suffer from herniated discs in my lower back and neck. Now I am in a dilemma, every time I find a good doctor, the Fed sends them a letter telling them that I have been to Schneider's clinic and then they drop me. I am on the verge on committing suicide because of  no pain medication. It is simply unbearable. I do not know what to do. Everything I learned growing up about America being free and the greatest country in the world is all a lie. Even in the archaic age of America in the 1800's  they used medications that were widely available to anyone. Sure there were people that abused them but there always will be people that abuse substances whether they are legal or illegal. It is such a shame that is not "We the People" any more.

Medicine and Ethics...

As a practitioner it is heartwrenching to read these accounts.  It is the moral obligation of any healer or doctor to help any patient regardless of that person's past history.  Each and every person who comes to us seeking care is a person in need.  To deny even one person is to deny humanity itself.  I am not a religious person by any stretch, but whenever I have any question or twinge about treating a person for whatever reason, I try to think of the teachings attributed to Jesus - to approach each being with impartiality, with love and compassion.  And no, I am not naive about things like personal safety and liability, nor am I overlooking the role of the patient in their own care and healing process.

To anyone reading these comments and who suffers chronic, debilitating pain I would also suggest getting on a path of alternative methods such as acupuncture, meditation, meditative types of yoga and/or qi gong (internal martial art).  It will require some effort on the part of the patient and will not be easy.  However, as time goes by and relief increases, patients who embark upon that path would not trade it away.

I wish everyone strength and tenacity for their life's journey, and may we all come to extend mercy not only to others, but ourselves as well.

Not Sorry For the Schneiders

The Schneiders were convicted for many other things that they did that were illegal, but the  innocent one,Dr.Simons is who I feel sorry for! He wasn't involved in the medicare fraud or the writing of illegal scripts, but yet he lost his license to practice and also paid 2 years of his life in a federal prison,because of his so called scheming lawyer and prosecutor! He should have been given a lie detector test and the nurse or whoever else was working there, should have been  sentenced also, but they walked free!! What is wrong with the system today? Dr. Simons paid his dues,now he is still suffering in Kansas because of Monti Belot who needs to step down!! Let Dr. Simons be able to leave Kansas and be able to practice medicine again. If he had a lawyer that would have stood up  for him in several more areas and put more people on trial, I feel that Dr. Simons would be able to restart his life that was so wrongly taken away from him! 

Help People

As a pain doctor, all you can do to help these people are to see them, if they say they are in pain,then as a doctor, you do your best to try to alleviate the pain by writing the prescriptions! YOU CAN NOT BE WITH THESE PEOPLE CONSTANTLY TO SEE THAT THEY ARE NOT ABUSING THE MEDICATIONS!! You as a doctor, can only write the prescriptions, not hold their hand to see they take the medication as directed!! 


I am gravely concerned that any Pharmacist can contact the DEA or any other Federal Agency to report their own projections. I guess it shouldn't surprise anyone that both CVS and Walgreen's paid multimillion dollar fines for their Florida indiscretions in exchange for the DOJ/DEA allowing them to open Walk in clinics everywhere so long as they agreed to report to the DEA regarding patients on Controlled Substances. Quid pro quo is the actual term. Dr. Henson did indeed work at a Men's Clinic where patients were treated with Testosterone and ED Meds. He also had an entirely separate Pain Management Practice. At this rate, with big brother tracking everyone's medications and illnesses, we'll soon have no Doctors and all care will be delivered through CVS and Walgreen's, care of the U.S. Government.

I wonder how many failed

I wonder how many failed urine tests went unchecked.  I wonder how many of these patients received extender drugs like soma or xanax to prolong their high.  Doctors shouldn't take on patients who have been cut loose from other practitioners for diversion/abuse.  Prescribing narcotics is a billion dollar industry and plenty of docs get kickbacks from big pharma.  If a prescriber is made aware that his patients are overdosing constantly, they have a duty to act upon that information and cut that patient loose. 

Doctors also want billable services and revolving patients to expand their practice.  That's why they ignore dirty tests, family phone calls alleging diversion and reports of overdose.  Simply put, they want your money and don't care how many seekers have to die to get it.

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