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Wednesday, May 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Jury acquits doctor of federal charges

Christensen was accused of over-prescribing drugs

A jury cleared a former North Idaho doctor this week of allegations that he over-prescribed drugs nearly a decade ago.

Chris Arthur Christensen was acquitted of three federal charges in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene after a weeklong jury trial.

It was the second trial for the former Silverton, Idaho, doctor, who was indicted in 2006 after a lengthy investigation by the Idaho State Police.

The first jury acquitted Christensen of six counts in June but couldn’t reach a verdict on 12 counts.

Federal prosecutors retried Christensen on 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. Witnesses included an ISP detective who posed as a patient to visit Christensen.

Christensen always denied wrongdoing, according to his lawyer, David E. Dokken, of Lewiston.

“He was a thorough and competent doctor who passionately pursued his practice,” according to court documents prepared by Dokken.

Christensen originally was indicted on charges relating to the deaths of several patients.

In 1998, a state investigation found that Christensen prescribed painkillers and narcotics to seven patients without treating their underlying problems, according to previously published reports.

In 2001, Christensen agreed to give up his license for two years and undergo at least a six-month pain management course after the Idaho state Board of Medicine accused him of prescribing drugs that resulted in a patient’s death.

He also agreed to pay the state $2,000 to cover investigative costs.

Jurors deliberated for about 10 hours before acquitting Christensen on Wednesday.

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

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