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Former Deer Park doctor to serve nine months in prison

A former Deer Park doctor will spend nine months in prison for overprescribing drugs, including OxyContin and methadone, to patients who were abusing them. At least two of those patients died of drug overdoses, according to a federal indictment, but the doctor was not in charged with those deaths.

Keith L. Hindman, 69, will report to prison next month after pleading guilty in federal court to health care fraud and prescribing controlled substances for non-medical purposes.

Chief U.S. District Court Robert Whaley sentenced Hindman today after approving a plea agreement that allowed for a substantially smaller sentence than called for by federal guidelines.

“We entrust in a doctor’s hands decisions that affect life and death,” Whaley said. “And we give them the license to do things that if anyone else does it, it’s a crime.”

Standard sentencing for a case like Hindman’s calls for at least 87 months in prison, but Whaley approved the plea agreement hatched by defense lawyer Mark Vovos and U.S Assistant Attorney Joseph Harrington asking for 60 months probation or no more than a year and a day in prison.

Whaley called his decision to adhere to that agreement “difficult” but noted Hindman’s “impeccable history,” which included time in the Coast Guard and no criminal record.

Federal agents raided Hindman’s office in 2007. His former assistant, Steven Featherkile, was also charged. That case is pending.

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