Sirens & Gavels

Doctor on trial for overprescribing

The second trial of a former Shoshone County doctor accused of overprescribing drugs is set to begin this week in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene.

Christopher Arthur Christensen faces three counts of prescribing methadone, hydrocodone and/or alprazolam, an anti-anxiety drug, "outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose" for incidents between Dec. 28, 2000 and Jan. 12, 2001.

Christensen had been indicted on additional counts relating to the care of at least five patients, including a Mullan, Idaho man who died in February 2001 after taking a mixture of methadone and alprazolam.

A North Idaho jury acquitted Christensen on six counts in June after a federal trial but couldn't reach a verdict on 12 counts.

The U.S. Attorney's Office dismissed all but the three counts Christensen faces at trial this week.

Federal prosecutors will call four witnesses, including the case investigator for Idaho State Police and a former employee of Christensen's, according to a trial briefing filed last week.

Also expected to testify is ISP Detective Beth Bradbury, who posed as a patient visiting Christensen during the investigation, and Dr. Arthur Jordan, an experts on the drugs Christensen is accused of overprescribing.

Christensen's attorney, David E. Dokken, of Lewiston, plans to call Dr. Jon Hillyer, of Bremerton, Wash., and former patients of Christensen's.

"Certainly, the defendant in no way acted as a 'pusher,'" according to a trial briefing prepared by Dokken. "...He was a thorough and competent doctor who passionately pursued his practice."

Christensen had a practice in Victor, Mont, as of May 2009, but it's unclear if it's still open.




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