For doctors, pharmacists, and prescribing nurses investigated for prescription drug crimes by the DEA, lawyer Eli Stutsman may be able to help. He defended the two doctors on appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of U.S. v. Chube II, 538 F3d 693 (7th Cir. 2008). In that case, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated both doctors’ prison sentences, and both doctors were released from prison a short time later. Library Staff has included this appeal in its listing of “Notable Oral Arguments” heard before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals over the past 15 years.
U.S. v. Chube II is an important DEA drug diversion case
U.S. v. Chube II in an important case for doctors convicted and sentenced on DEA prescription drug charges, for drug diversion, or prescribing without a legitimate medical purpose. Here’s why: At the time of sentencing in that case, the DEA’s lawyer (or prosecutor) and the PSR writer seemingly counted (i.e., added up) every prescription drug, without first determining that each prescription constituted a prescription drug crime, i.e., drug diversion, or prescribing without a legitimate medical purpose. This same mistake is often made by DEA lawyers and investigators during criminal investigations of DEA Registrants. Unfortunately, the federal District Court adopted this mistake, and sentenced both doctors according, greatly increasing the length of each doctor’s sentence. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, however, finding that the District Court relied upon insufficient evidence to prove the relevant conduct was in fact criminal conduct (of prescription drug crimes), and both doctors’ sentences were vacated. See Opinion. These same legal principles apply equally to cases involved prescribing nurses and dispensing pharmacists, anyone, or any entity, possessing a DEA Registration.
Relevant conduct must be criminal conduct
Simply put, in U.S. v. Chube II, the DEA’s lawyers and the PSR writer all confused, substituted, and/or conflated the civil standard of care with the criminal conviction standard, thereby watering-down the governments burden of proof when seeking convictions for prescription drug crimes, better known as unlawful prescribing, unlawful dispensing, or drug diversion. Beware that DEA drug diversion agents make this same mistake during criminal investigations. And never forget that “relevant conduct” must be criminal conduct. If the conduct is not criminal, it is not relevant at the time of sentencing to lengthen the sentence. In this case, both doctors served substantially shorter sentences when relevant conduct was determined under the correct legal standard.
Working against the DEA, lawyer has gained national experience
For doctors, pharmacists, and prescribing nurses investigated or charged with prescription drug crimes by the DEA, lawyer Eli Stutsman may be able to help. He has directly defended or advised physicians, pharmacists, and prescribing nurses in cases arising out of the Third, Fourth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits and 13 states, including Indiana, South Carolina, Arizona, Oregon, Virginia, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Hawaii, Texas, Connecticut, California and Michigan. To learn more about his practice, call 503.274.4048.