Kansas doctor sentenced to life in prison for selling opioid prescriptions for cash

Kansas doctor sentenced to life in prison for selling opioid prescriptions for cash
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A Kansas doctor was sentenced to life in prison on Friday after he was convicted of selling opioids to patients without a legitimate medical reason. 

Judge J. Thomas Marten said the doctor, Steven R. Henson, wrote multiple illegitimate prescriptions and “abused his position of trust as a licensed physician,” according to the Wichita Eagle.  

One of Henson's patients, Nicholas “Nick” McGovern died in 2015 after overdosing on drugs that Henson had prescribed him. According to the Eagle, the count relating to McGovern's death was the charge that resulted in Henson's life sentence.

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“I have sentenced people to life before,” the judge said in court, according to the paper. “They were people who took guns and shot people.”

“I only had one goal in life as a physician,” Henson said, according to the Eagle, “and that was to take excellent care of patients and to increase their functionality.”

Henson was convicted of on charges including 13 counts of unlawfully distributing oxycodone; unlawfully distributing oxycodone, methadone and alprazolam; unlawfully distributing methadone and alprazolam, the use of which resulted in the death of a victim; presenting false patient records to investigators; obstruction of justice; and six counts of money laundering, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas.

Federal investigators began probing Henson in 2014 following concerns from a pharmacist that he had been over-prescribing controlled medications, the Eagle reported. Investigators found that Henson gave opioid prescriptions to patients for $300 in cash at a time, according to the paper. 

Prosecutors also accused Henson of falsifying patient records during the investigation, as well as obstructing the probe.

“I want this case to send a message to physicians and the health care community,” federal prosecutor Stephen McAllister said in the statement. “Unlawfully distributing opioids and other controlled substances is a federal crime."

“We are dealing with an epidemic," he added. "Nationwide, more than 70,000 Americans died in 2017 from drug overdoses."