Gosnell pleads guilty to federal 'pill mill' drug indictment

Dr. Kermit Gosnell and his lawyer, William Brennan, talk to a Daily News reporter on March 8, 2010. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)
Dr. Kermit Gosnell and his lawyer, William Brennan, talk to a Daily News reporter on March 8, 2010. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer) (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer, file)
Posted: July 10, 2013

After twice balking at a guilty-plea deal offered by federal prosecutors, West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell pleaded guilty Tuesday to trafficking in prescriptions for almost a million pills of dangerous narcotics.

For Gosnell, 72, the only advantage to the plea agreement he formalized before U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rule was that it was on his terms.

Already serving three consecutive state life prison terms for killing infants born alive during illegal late-term abortions, Gosnell will never leave prison alive.

Rufe set sentencing for Oct. 4. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan Burnes estimated that Gosnell faces 24-1/2 to 30 years in prison, based on federal sentencing guidelines. Gosnell also agreed to forfeit at least $200,000, income the government says was linked to the "pill mill."

McMahon said Gosnell had a personal objection to the school-zone count. Without the criminal enterprise charge and its mandatory minimum, McMahon said, Gosnell's sentence will be up to the judge.

After Gosnell last balked at the proposed plea agreement on June 26, Rufe set trial for Sept. 9 and warned Gosnell that trial date was firm.

For Gosnell and those law enforcement officials who prosecuted him, Tuesday's guilty plea brought the case full circle.

It was a Feb. 18, 2010 drug raid on Gosnell's Women's Medical Society clinic at 3801 Lancaster Ave. that resulted in the discovery of more than 47 frozen fetal remains. That discovery triggered a Philadelphia county grand jury probe that ended with murder charges against Gosnell and four employees and illegal abortion counts against five others.

The federal charges against Gosnell involved the sale of almost a million pills containing the narcotic painkiller oxycodone and the generic version of the antianxiety drug Xanax.

Those two drugs and scripts for more than 19,000 ounces of codeine-based cough syrup - all coveted by addicts - were allegedly sold for cash out of the clinic from 2008 through January 2010 under cover of what Gosnell called his "pain management practice."

Gosnell was indicted by a federal grand jury with three ex-employees and the U.S. Attorney's office separately charged four other Gosnell workers.

All the federal defendants but Gosnell pleaded guilty. None has been sentenced in case their testimony is needed in Gosnell's trial.

According to the indictment, Gosnell began selling prescriptions in 2008, writing several hundred bogus prescriptions a month. By January 2010, Gosnell was writing more than 2,300 scripts a month and was Pennsylvania's third largest prescriber of oxycodone.

Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985, jslobodzian@phillynews.com, or @joeslobo on Twitter.


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