Brigham City doctor in pain pill case gets 20 years prison

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal judge on Monday reluctantly ordered a Brigham City pain doctor convicted of drug charges to serve a 20-year prison sentence, saying he believed the term was unjust.U.S. District Judge Dee Benson said Dewey MacKay was convicted under a law that carries a minimum mandatory penalty and that he had no choice but to follow the law.”Congress is imposing this sentence, I’m not,” Benson said. “I do like my job, but I don’t like it today. It’s a day of blaming, and the sentence is harsh. … I don’t believe it’s just.”The 64-year-old doctor was convicted in August on 40 of 86 charges related to a pattern of prescription drug distribution. The convictions included two controlled substance distribution charges, stemming from the 2006 death of David Leslie Wirick, a 55-year-old rocket scientist from Ogden.The other convictions were for three counts of using a communication facility to commit a drug offense and 35 counts of distribution of a controlled substance. But he was not convicted on 46 other counts of distribution of a controlled substance.Benson ordered MacKay to self-surrender to authorities Feb. 1. He has 14 days to appeal the sentence.The judge rejected a request from prosecutors that MacKay be ordered to pay more than $600,000 in restitution to patient’s families. Benson said prosecutors failed to prove a link between MacKay and the victims’ medical problems.Leaving the courthouse with his wife, MacKay said “Merry Christmas” but declined to comment on the case.In a lengthy statement during the three-hour hearing, MacKay said he was bewildered by the jury’s verdict and believed they made a mistake. MacKay, who has more than 40 years of practicing medicine, said his only intention was to help – not hurt – those suffering from chronic pain.He said he takes responsibility for his role in patient care, but said he could not know that some patients would lie to him or intentionally misuse medications.”I was not perfect in all I did, but I never practiced with criminal intent,” MacKay told the court.During the trial, prosecutors said MacKay turned from doctor to drug dealer after he no longer could work as an orthopedic surgeon because of health issues. They contend MacKay saw as many as 120 patients a day and that many were diagnosed and given prescription refills without being properly evaluated.State records show MacKay issued more than 37,700 prescriptions for hydrocodone and oxycodone between June 2005 and October 2009, totaling more than 3.5 million pills.Follow the hearing, Wirick’s widow said she didn’t believe MacKay showed any remorse for his actions”I thought he made excuses,” an emotional Susan Wirick said. “I feel awful that he’s going to jail, I do. But he just made some very big mistakes.”

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