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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sirens & Gavels

Imprisoned physician’s aide gets probation

An assistant to a physician serving time in federal prison for overprescribing drugs to patients will be on probation for the next three years.

Steven M. Featherkile, of Deer Park, pleaded guilty to three counts of making fraudulent reimbursement claims to Medicaid in an agreement that dropped the original charges of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance and conspiracy charges.

Those charges were filed in 2007 after a lengthy investigation into Deer Park physician Keith Hindman, who employed Featherkile as an assistant for about four years.

Hindman was sentenced to nine months in prison in April. Federal prosecutors connected him to the death of at least one patient.

But Featherkile had nothing to do with Hindman's actions, his lawyer, J.J. Sandlin, said today after Featherkile was sentenced in U.S. District Court.

Featherkile has always been upfront about accepting responsibility for overcharging Medicare, according to the defense's sentencing memorandum. The total amount overbilled was $20.67, according to court documents.

Along with probation, U.S. District Judge Robert Whaley ordered Featherkile to perform 200 hours of community service each year for three years and pay a $2,000 fine.

"I'm going to let the DEA figure out whether you have a license or not," Whaley said.

Sandlin said he sees no reason why Featherkile shouldn't be allowed to keep his license. "I would take my children to him," Sandlin said.

Sandlin said pain management has been too influenced by addiction specialists that push for limits on drugs. Those limits lead to continued pain for patients, Sandlin said.

"Physicians are easy targets for the DEA," Sandlin.

Past coverage:

Former physician sentenced to prison

Indictment: Clinic gave abusers painkillers

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.