A criminal matter involving drug overdoses is in the news in Kansas. A doctor and his wife, previously convicted for their involvement in the drug overdose deaths of 68 patients, have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms. U.S. District Court Judge Monti Belot ruled that there was sufficient evidence for a conviction and rejected the couple’s plea for mercy. The judge sentenced Dr. Stephen Schneider to 30 years in prison and his wife, Linda, to 33 years.
The present sentence follows the original trial of the Schneiders in 2010, when they were found guilty. Judge Belot ordered a new sentencing after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that a victim's drug use must be the actual cause of death to impose the harshest punishments under the federal Controlled Substances Act. The Schneiders plan to appeal their convictions. Wichita attorney Larry Wall, who represents families of several of the victims, discusses the case in this report.
Wall says he has been in contact with most of the families he represents, and they are pleased that the judge did not reduce the length of the sentences during the second sentencing proceeding. The families were reassured by the trial judge’s comment that the actions of the Schneiders appear to have been motivated by greed. As a result, the judge showed no leniency. Wall explained that Linda Schneider received a larger sentence than her husband because she had a prior felony conviction.
Wall says that, in addition to the Schneiders, Dr. Lawrence M. Simons was involved in the drug overdose deaths. Simons has been convicted twice and was recently sentenced by Judge Belot. Wall says that the Schneiders employed Simons after their clinic was raided. Wall says that Dr. Schneider’s reputation was well-known, and he was criticized in the Haysville, Kansas newspaper in 2000. The medical community of Haysville and Wichita knew all about Dr. Schneider. He acquired the nickname of “Schneider the Writer.” Wall says that, although the medical community was well aware of what Schneider was doing, everyone looked the other way until criminal charges were filed. "Local doctors still look the other way and do everything to protect bad doctors."
Wall believes that the Schneiders’ chances on appeal are very slim. Even if they get a retrial, they would come back for a retrial before a federal judge who has already formed a firm opinion of their guilt and their motivation.
Larry Wall is a founder of the Wall Huntington Law Firm, Wichita, Kansas. He is an active member of the Kansas Association of Justice and the American Association for Justice. He has been a member of the K.A.J. Board of Governors since 1985. Mr. Wall has been Chairman of the Medical Malpractice Section for many years. Since 1985, Mr. Wall has won over 40 million dollars for his clients. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.