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News of the Day ... In Perspective

Dr. Knox pleads guilty to four counts, down from 313

Cecil Knox, M.D., of Roanoke, VA, has entered a plea agreement rather than face a second trial that was to have begun in October. His first trial on 69 of 313 original charges ended in acquittal on about half, and a hung jury on the rest.

Dr. Knox pleaded guilty to “racketeering,” two counts of marijuana distribution, and misdemeanor health care fraud. The “racketeering” consisted of two instances of prescribing diet pills to a patient who agreed to share them with him. This and the marijuana counts came to light in Dr. Knox’s own testimony in the first trial. The government apparently abandoned its entire case, in which it had portrayed Dr. Knox as a menace to society.

Dr. Knox, who is suffering from lymphoma, also agreed to surrender his medical license and DEA registration.

“It’s clear that Knox was not in all respects a by-the-book doctor,” writes Jacob Sullum. “But it’s equally clear that the Justice Department’s indictments were ridiculously inflated…and based on allegations it could not prove…. [T]he strategy of intimidating defendants into guilty pleas by turning every alleged act into multiple offenses is a conspicuous feature of the DEA’s war on doctors (reason.com).

Additional information:

Government fails to convict Dr. Knox on a single count. News of the Day 10/30/03.

“Hung jury in case of Dr. Cecil Knox” and “Try, try again,” AAPS News, December 2003, p. 3.

“Doctors say US Drug policy forces pain patients to extreme measures, turns doctors into criminals,” AAPS Press Release 10/2/03.

Conviction rates and plea bargains

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