200,000/yr pts die of medical errors – no charges.. Single doc has two OD deaths and may get 500 yrs sentence

blindjusticeJudge: Montana physician facing 400 felonies not eligible for public defender


I recently blogged about chronic pain refugees in MT

Montana’s ‘Pain Refugees’ Leave State To Get Prescribed Opioids

HAMILTON — A district judge ruled Monday that a Florence physician charged with 400 felonies must pay for his own defense.

Dr. Chris Christensen was initially appointed a public defender following his arrest in August for allegedly providing hundreds of illegal prescriptions to patients.

The state Office of Public Defenders rescinded the appointment of a public defender last month following a review of Christensen’s financial records.

Christensen then took his case directly to Ravalli County District Judge Jeffrey Langton. During a hearing, Christensen said he couldn’t afford the cost of legal representation considering the scale and complicity of the charges.

At that hearing, an official with the Public Defenders Office agreed to provide Langton with Christensen’s application and supporting materials under a privacy seal for the judge to review.

In his ruling, Langton noted that the chief purpose of the Montana Public Defender Act was to provide effective assistance to indigent criminal defendants.

While the law allows for the court to conditionally appoint a public defender for an initial appearance, the Office of Public Defenders is then required to verify whether the defendant meets the criteria for that appointment.

Christensen was initially represented by two attorneys, including Thomas Bartleson of the state’s major crimes unit and a private attorney.

After reviewing the financial records, Langton found that Christensen “does not even come close” to meeting the definition of “indigent” under the law.

“Nor can the Court determine that the disposable income and assets of Christensen and members of his household are insufficient to retain competent private counsel without substantial hardship to him or members of his household,” according to Langton’s ruling. “Any determination to the contrary would undermine the legislature’s legitimate governmental interest in providing taxpayer-funded public defender service to indigent criminal defendants.”

Deputy Ravalli County Attorney Thorin Geist challenged Christensen’s request for a public defender during his initial appearance.

A 16-month investigation found that Christensen’s business in Florence operated almost exclusively in cash, earned about $2,500 a day and grossed more than $500,000 annually, according to an affidavit filed in the case.

Langton ruled earlier that Christensen’s application for a public defender was to be released to the county attorney’s office. In a motion, Geist said the state wanted to see the application to determine if it could lead to additional perjury charges.

No additional charges have been filed.

The 400 felony charges filed against Christensen include two counts of negligent homicide that stem from the death of two patients who were allegedly prescribed methadone by Christensen.

The maximum penalty Christensen faces is 388 life sentences, plus 135 years in prison and fines of $20 million.

Christensen, 67, remains free on a $200,000 bond

One Response

  1. They confiscated 5,000 patient charts.
    They kept them for over two years without charging him.
    His license was restored.
    He resumed practice for 10 days before being arrested.
    2 patient deaths occurred.
    There is evidence for one being a suicide( the spouse has the suicide nite)
    The other was very sick.
    9 more patients
    Out of 5,000, and after more than two years
    Were the source of the 398 other felony charges.
    Thats 42 felonies for each patient!
    I’m guessing each of those 9 patients that saw Dr Christensen over years
    Were in some type of legal trouble an willing to change their words about Dr Christensen.
    Each felony charge is for
    EACH prescription he wrote.
    And these felonious prescriptions were not obvious, because it took over two years to charge him.
    The facts must have been massaged in order to get those nine.
    These patients saw him for YEARS.
    One Rx per month, average of 3 1/2 years.
    Who is responsible for these felonious prescriptions?
    What about the patient?
    The pharmacist?
    The staff at the clinic?
    Law enforcement allowed criminal acts to go on for YEARS?
    This is so crazy.

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