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Can a Fatal Plane Crash Free the Schneider Pill Mill Team?Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Martin Luther King, Jr.
(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - An untimely plane crash recently killed key members of a team working on behalf of a convicted pill mill doctor and nurse team. Now attorneys petition Appellate Court to toss out their convictions in the overdose deaths of 68 patients citing their trial lawyers were merely "mouthpieces" for Siobhan Reynolds, head of the Pain Relief Network who used their case to promote her own agenda.
On December 28, 2011 I wrote an article about the plane crash that took the lives of Siobhan Reynolds and the pilot of the plane -- her lover, Kevin Byers. Byers was the attorney for Linda Schneider during her trial in 2010, and subsequent conviction. The link to this article is shown here www.salem-news.com/articles/december282011/siobhan-reynolds-ms.php.
Documents filed last Friday with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals argued trial lawyers for Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda, had a conflict of interest that allowed Siobhan Reynolds, president the Pain Relief Network, to essentially direct the defense strategy. The couple's new lawyers also contended in filings that Reynolds had a sexual relationship with an attorney on the defense team.
Along with conspiracy, the Schneiders were convicted in 2010 of unlawfully prescribing drugs, health care fraud and money laundering at their Haysville, Kansas pain clinic where approximately 10,000 patients were treated by Dr. Schneider. Dr. Schneider was sentenced to 30 years in prison, and Linda Schneider was sentenced to 33 years. The government also won a forfeiture judgment of $1.27 million, and the Schneiders were ordered to pay $114.7 million in restitution to victims.
The briefs filed this week offered the first public look at the arguments the couple are raising on appeal. In them, the appeals attorneys, who practice in Denver, Colorado portray Reynolds as a "zealot" who believed the war on drugs was transforming America into a "police state" in which the federal government let patients live and die in unnecessary pain. Her goal, they say, was "fighting government prosecution of physicians for prescribing painkillers."
The appeals attorneys, one in private practice (Dr. Schneider's counsel) specializes in appeals cases and one a public defender (Linda's counsel) contend Reynolds persuaded the Schneiders to dismiss their court-appointed attorneys and assemble a so-called "Dream Team of lawyers" willing to take a stand. But they say those attorneys had a conflict of interest because they were actively representing Reynolds in other cases, and appeals attorneys say the trial attorneys (Lawrence Williamson and the now deceased Kevin Byers) wrongly shared confidential information about the Schneiders with Reynolds. Schneiders were quoted as calling Reynolds a "comfort" to them and were convinced they would be set free because of the people Reynolds had in high places -- and the fact that she was related to "the Kennedys".
The Schneiders briefs also state the doctor and his wife could have had stronger defenses had their cases been tried separately. Reynolds had convinced them to have their cases heard together.
The filings to overturn the Schneiders sentence states that Reynolds placed one precondition on her involvement in the case. There would be no surrender to the government. She made this clear to a talk-radio audience a year before meeting the Schneiders. “We can’t help when the people in the community, the patients, the doctors, the wives think the safe thing to do is capitulate to the government,” she said. “If we smell that kind of fear on the people, we won’t get involved because we can’t afford to risk it.” Having established the terms of her assistance, Reynolds convinced the Schneiders to dismiss the lawyers already representing them.
"The lawyers are working against you,” Reynolds said to Dr. Schneider imploring him to see that “your guys are simply not getting it. They are not taking as strong a position as they could.” “These cases are a lot more winnable than people normally think,” she explained. After “chewing his ass out,” she told one of the lawyers to “get on board and do this from your heart.”
In early March 2008, while the still-imprisoned Schneiders were serving as “leverage” for the Pain Relief Network, the government filed a Motion for Determination of Conflict. The motion described how Reynolds had attached herself, barnaclelike, to the defense, orchestrating everything from the dismissal of the original lawyers through the selection of the Dream Team to the formation of the joint-defense agreement between the Schneiders.
Although the prosecutors noted Reynolds’s intent to write a book about the case, as well as the payments she received from the Schneider family, they apparently had not yet learned of the sexual relationship between Reynolds and Byers.
So now that Reynolds is no longer in the picture to snow the Schneiders with her self-importance and personal agenda, why not file an appeal citing conflict of interest in the handling of their case. The Schneiders certainly weren't complaining about Reynolds orchestrating their defense. Even after their conviction and incarceration, they were still convinced Reynolds was going to get them out of prison.
Maybe now it's time for the victims and their families to be heard. They can't appeal the deaths of the 68 loved ones who trusted Schneider and subsequently paid with their lives. Below is a letter written by the widower of a 45 year old woman named "Robin" who wants his wife to speak for those who were referred to by Dr. Schneider as "bad grapes" when he was told one of his patients had died.
How has my life has changed since I lost Robin? Robin and I were together for 17 years and her being taken from me was devastating. Our dreams were to grow old together. Enjoy our children. Watch our grandchildren be born. I am fighting depression since she passed away. Our young granddaughter came to be shortly after her Grammi's death and asked "Where is Grammi Robin?" How do I explain to a little girl where her beautiful Grammi Robin is -- and how do I not let her see the emptiness I have in my heart with Robin's death?
Robin was very motivated at Wichita State University studying to be a Child Psychologist and would have graduated in May of 2008, but she died at 45 years old in 2007. How many lives could Robin have touched and helped will never be known because she was taken from us in a manner that was totally preventable.
Unfortunately in 2005, Robin walked into the Schneider Pain Clinic for treatment of migraine headaches and she put her trust in Dr. Schneider. At first the medication did help, but as time went on she suffered severely from the headaches and the addiction to the medications Schneider put her on. Robin was taking Fentynal lollipops (which were manufactured for terminally ill cancer patients to ease the pain in their final days of living). Fentynal is 100 times more powerful than Morphine to which Dr. Schneider also had Robin taking along with the Fentynal lollipops. Robin died May 15, 2007 just days after her last appointment with Dr. Schneider due to Fentynal overdose. Her death was ruled accidental overdose.
I have many regrets -- one being that we had advised Dr. Schneider that Robin was going to be treated at the Mayo Clinic for her migraine headaches. Schneider convinced Robin that he could perform the same tests on her that the Mayo Clinic could. Schneider never performed any of those tests.
A typical visit to Schneider's pain clinic did not involve any physical examination, no blood pressure -- Schneider would come into the examination room and ask "What are you here for -- a refill? He would write out prescriptions and Robin would leave the office -- in and out within a matter of mere minutes.
Robin was not a "bad grape" nor were the other 67 victims of the Schneider Pain Clinic -- the "bad grapes" were working inside the clinic and are now in prison. Family members of the victims are also in a prison of sort, but no appeal will bring back 68 lives cruelly ripped from loved ones.
The Names of the Victims of Dr. Schneider -- who can never be forgotten and do not deserve "injustice."
Jun-09-2010: Tumbling Tumbleweeds - a Continuing Look at the Schneider Trial in Kansas - Marianne Skolek Salem-News.com
_________________________________Salem-News.com Reporter Marianne Skolek, is an Activist for Victims of OxyContin and Purdue Pharma throughout the United States and Canada. In July 2007, she testified against Purdue Pharma in Federal Court in Virginia at the sentencing of their three CEO's - Michael Friedman, Howard Udell and Paul Goldenheim - who pleaded guilty to charges of marketing OxyContin as less likely to be addictive or abused to physicians and patients. She also testified against Purdue Pharma at a Judiciary Hearing of the U.S. Senate in July 2007. Marianne works with government agencies and private attorneys in having a voice for her daughter Jill, who died in 2002 after being prescribed OxyContin, as well as the voice for scores of victims of OxyContin. She has been involved in her work for the past 8-1/2 years and is currently working on a book that exposes Purdue Pharma for their continued criminal marketing of OxyContin.
Marianne is a nurse having graduated in 1991 as president of her graduating class. She also has a Paralegal certification. Marianne served on a Community Service Board for the Courier News, a Gannet newspaper in NJ writing articles predominantly regarding AIDS patients and their emotional issues. She was awarded a Community Service Award in 1993 by the Hunterdon County, NJ HIV/AIDS Task Force in recognition of and appreciation for the donated time, energy and love in facilitating a Support Group for persons with HIV/AIDS.
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