Chapter 8 Continued:
Bayly, incarcerated at Petersburg, Furst at Seagoville, and Jim Brown at Fort Dix, lived in daily fear of being attacked—by the guards as much as by the inmate population. There was no privacy. The filth and bugs were everywhere. Prison was total sensory deprivation and daily degradation. They didn’t “fit in” with the population. The Court’s decision dragged on.
In this discussion, I’m going to try to explain to you firsthand what it feels like to go to prison as an innocent person. Someday I plan on writing a book about my experiences, but right now I have a more important mission—to stop this from happening to more innocent people. Because of the prosecutorial misconduct rampant in the DOJ now, I would say that 25% of the people incarcerated are innocent of “knowingly and willingly” committing a criminal act.
First feel the emotion. As I simply stood at my kitchen sink preparing to write this discussion, my heart started to pound, my throat got tight, and tears exploded from my eyes. As I sit here, I find it hard to breathe. I’m sure many chronic pain patients know what I am experiencing, as you sit in your doctor’s office wondering if your meds are going to be cut. So you see, I can relate. Different circumstance, but the flight or fight response is the same no matter what the underlying stress.
As I sat in the courtroom and the jury chairman passed the decision to the judge, I prayed to God that justice would be done. I was innocent. The prosecution had not proven that I had done anything illegal. The prescriptions I was being charged with ordering were ordered by another doctor with a DEA certificate. To say that I had “used the DEA certificate of another doctor without her knowledge” had not been proven. Granted, the doctor was forced to commit perjury and said on the witness stand that I had not communicated with her, but her whole testimony reeked of forced testimony as she stumbled through her statements, her eyes glued on the US Attorney, like she was asking, “Am I saying that right?” And the letters that I wrote to the DEA asking for guidance, the prosecution showed to the jury. I thought that proved that I was trying to do everything I could to follow the law.
When the first “guilty” was read (I had to listen to 172 “guilties”), my heart was crushed. “Why, Lord?” was all I could think. I had a handicapped husband (almost blind with RP and physically handicapped with cerebral palsy). I was innocent. Nothing put before the jury pointed to any guilt. Even the patients they put on the witness stand could only testify that I had discharged them because they were found to have a dirty urine or failed a pill count. I could only assume that they found me guilty only because of the underlying belief in the American people that only guilty people go to trial. Well, this book, my case, and thousands more just like it show that that is not the case anymore.
But at the reading of that jury decision, my life was ruined. An innocent doctor, and my family, destroyed because of the greed and corruption of our government entity we call “Justice”.
I still had hope that at sentencing, the Judge would do the right thing. If he listened at all to the trial proceedings, surely he knew that I was innocent. He knew that my husband was handicapped, and should understand that I would not do anything intentionally illegal. After all, I only made $24,000 income at most in any given year since becoming a physician, due to the fact that I took care of the expendable population, who most of the time didn’t pay for my services. So I surely wasn’t doing anything illegal “for the money”. But I found out that the judge is just a much a part of this charade as the US Attorney’s office and DEA is. They all work together. First, I found it unusual that the Judge met with the US Attorney alone at the beginning of the sentencing hearing.
Then, when I was charged extra for “obstruction of justice” because I talked with the two “government witnesses” after the trial was over. I could see they all work together, including the defense lawyers. Notice that most of the prosecutors in the cases in this book get hired by prominent private law firms after they made a name for themselves, even though their method was illegal. No one in the legal profession has a problem with breaking the law, because they all cover for each other. If any profession needs to be hauled before the wrecking ball, it is the legal profession.
Let’s look at the conduct of my defense attorney, Rhonda Overstreet, in Bedford, VA.
1. She recommended to me that I not testify. Thinking that she was working in my best interest, I agreed. Problem: a defendant is considered guilty in this country until proven innocent. Again, this is because of the basic premise that you wouldn’t be sitting in the defense chair if you weren’t guilty. NO ONE, charged with a crime, should go without a defense. To depend on the court instructions that the prosecution must prove “beyond reasonable doubt”, is fooling yourself.
2. She said she tried to communicate with Dr. Schultz and my nurse, and they never returned her call. Problem: That was a lie. Both witnesses told me they never heard from my lawyer. Since that was after the trial, I believe them, especially my nurse, who was on my side. By not talking with these important witnesses, my lawyer had nothing to ask them on cross. If we had talked to Kathy, for example, we would have uncovered the perjury before the trial. I believe that was on purpose. I believe that defense attorneys get a piece of the pie of a conviction. So if they are paid more for a conviction, why should they work for their client? I know mine didn’t.
3. I informed her of the actual law-breaking of the US Attorney’s office. They called in a script in my name for a CS (confidential source) that I did not accept as a patient. The government sent in 6 fake patients trying to get controlled substances. I didn’t know they were wired, but do to my ability to screen patients, I knew they were drug-seeking and I didn’t accept them as patients. The government, I guess, got tired of doing that, so they just took it upon themselves to call in a script in my name. When I told my defense attorney about it, she shrugged her shoulders and said “What do you expect?” Well, what I expect, and I hope the rest of the country, is that our government justice upholders are law-abiding. The fact that they aren’t, and everyone else in the system knows it, accepts it as “normal”, and does nothing is alarming. What is our country coming to?
I was looking at a possible life sentence for the 172 charges I was found guilty on—5 years per charge =860 years. I was luckier than some doctors, but still not lucky enough. I was sentenced to 33 months. Any time away from my handicapped husband was going to be torture for him. I just couldn’t see how the judge could do that. He had other options—home confinement, probation, etc. But he said he wanted to “send a message to the doctors”. There was one problem with that.
Doctors don’t know the Controlled Substance Act—why it was formed and what it says. The only wordage they can use with these attacks on doctors is “distribution of oxycodone”. So when a doctor reads in the newspaper (or anyone else for that matter), “Doctor Convicted for Distribution of Oxycodone”, they automatically think that the doctor passed out pills illegally to someone on the street. That’s because that is the intent of the CSA. Doctors are supposed to be exempt from prosecution for treating patients in their office and only be prosecuted if they take the drugs out of the office and start “distributing” them like a street pusher. That’s why, when the prosecutors say something to the media about a doctor they are persecuting, they always use those words, that the doctor is “acting like a street pusher” The only problem is, they aren’t. They are in the office evaluating and treating a patient as they are supposed to do in their job, and they should be exempt from criminal charges. Sending me to prison was not going to get any message out to doctors that they better not prescribe opiates. Of course now, as more innocent physicians are going to prison all over the country, doctors are scared and many won’t write for controlled drugs. But it is not because they understand the reason—they’re just scared.
Then the judge did something I wasn’t prepared for at all. He had me taken into custody right there. Since I didn’t even think God would allow me to be taken away from my husband at all, I was in shock. I hadn’t done anything with my house or my belongings in my medical office. Bill was handicapped, so he couldn’t do anything either. My lawyer had told me that repossession of my home by the bank could take years, so I just hoped it could wait. Bill wasn’t able to do anything to get it ready for sale either.
I was given a minute to give my husband a kiss. I looked back at Dr. Schultz. She had come to the sentencing, obviously out of guilt. I glared at her. She had the “deer in the headlights” look. She knew she had committed perjury to save herself, and had been lied to by the prosecution. You see, when I spoke with her after the trial, this was our conversation:
“Kathy, why did you lie on the witness stand? That is going to send me to prison.”
“You won’t go to prison. They will just slap your hand and you will be able to go on. They don’t send doctors to prison.”
“Why did you say what you did when it wasn’t the truth?”
“I wasn’t sure what the truth was anymore. They came to talk to me so many times, I just didn’t know.”
It was at that point that I knew they had banked on her dementia. She was 75 years old, and mentally stressed, so they used some form of mental waterboarding to strip her of her memory and plant in her fake testimony. That was why she was so faltering on the witness stand. And they had lied to her, saying I wouldn’t be going to prison. So she felt safe giving the testimony they told her to give. Now, with me going to prison, she realized what she had done. I haven’t seen or spoken with her since. But she will be spending eternity in hell. False testimony is an unforgivable sin. I’m sorry about that, but it was her choice.
The US Marshals walked me out the door to the elevator to take me down to the basement where I had my mug shot picture taken and was fingerprinted. I was in a daze. They then handcuffed and shackled my feet. That hurt because I had stockings on, and the iron really banged on my ankles when I walked. They don’t give you enough room to do more than a shuffle when you walk. That is really humiliating. A few minutes ride in the back of a van, and I was taken into the city jail.