Last week, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eugene Rossi and Mark D. Lytle filed their "position on sentencing factors" and urged U.S. District Court Judge Leonard D. Wexler to sentence William E. Hurwitz to life in prison.
At the conclusion of a six-week trial last November and December, a jury convicted Hurwitz, who operated a high-profile practice treating patients with chronic pain from his McLean office, on 50 of 62 counts, including drug trafficking conspiracy and drug trafficking resulting in deaths and serious bodily injuries. The trial included 76 witnesses — 63 for the prosecution — and more than 1,000 exhibits.
Hurwitz specialized in treating patients with severe, chronic pain with high doses of addictive opioid drugs including OxyContin. Many of Hurwitz’s patients were selling some of the hundreds of thousands of addictive pills he prescribed for them, and more than 15 of those drug dealers testified against Hurwitz at his trial.
"The Hurwitz case, which involved a pain management practice that was simply out of control, was a key part of an organized investigation," according to Rossi and Lytle.
Hurwitz would "often times encourage the patients' insatiable demand for excessive and obscene amounts of pills," wrote Rossi and Lytle. "Despite deliberate and actual knowledge of obvious patient abuse, misuse, diversion and distribution of prescribed drugs, Hurwitz continued to issue prescriptions.”
Advocates for patients who suffer from chronic pain closely watched Hurwitz’s trial, saying that the prosecution of physicians who try to help pain patients will have a chilling effect, making it nearly impossible for them to get the care they need.
Hurwitz's attorney Marvin Miller has asked that Hurwitz's conviction be overturned by Wexler before sentencing. Miller, who said he will appeal Hurwitz's sentence after it is imposed on April 14, also filed a motion for Wexler to release the former McLean doctor on bond until his appeal is decided. Hurwitz is currently jailed in Warsaw, more than 100 miles away.
In his motion for Hurwitz's conviction to be overturned, Miller asserted that the jury convicted his client on testimony that challenged the doctor's standard of caregiving, not on criminal behavior. Miller, who thinks Hurwitz's case will ultimately be decided in a higher court, contends there can't be a conspiracy when none of Hurwitz's patients who were convicted for selling OxyContin or other pain pills shared proceeds of their distributions with him.
"This is a case where a physician is seeking to be released pending resolution on appeal of some significant legal issues. He should not be confined until his case has finally been decided," wrote Miller in a motion he filed last month.
"Whether Hurwitz was motivated by ego, a desire to fight the law, or greed, he abused his role of doctor," countered Rossi and Lytle in their motion opposing Miller’s request.
Judge Wexler is scheduled to hear arguments from Rossi and Miller on March 23.
Hurwitz is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14.
Dozens of witnesses from both sides are expected to testify or submit letters to be read, or considered, at his sentencing.