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Utah Psychiatrist Gets Sentence

September 12, 2002

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ A psychiatrist awaiting trial on charges he killed five patients with overdoses of painkillers was sentenced Wednesday to a year in prison for prescription drug fraud.

Robert Weitzel, who pleaded guilty last month to two fraud counts, was ordered to begin serving the sentence immediately.

Federal guidelines called for a six-month term, but U.S. District Judge Dee Benson said Weitzel deserved a stiffer sentence because he hadn’t accepted the ``full range of his criminal culpability.″

Federal prosecutors said Weitzel kept much of the morphine and Demerol he had prescribed for his patients to feed his own drug habit.

Utah prosecutors also accuse Weitzel of killing five patients with drugs, and he is scheduled to go to trial on state manslaughter charges Oct. 30. Weitzel has denied that his treatment of the patients violated standard medical practices.

Weitzel was convicted in 2000 of manslaughter and negligent homicide, but the convictions were overturned the following year.

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