updated 12/20/2007 4:04:41 PM ET 2007-12-20T21:04:41

A Kansas physician who allegedly operated a "pill mill" out of his Haysville clinic was charged Thursday with illegally prescribing drugs in a scheme that prosecutors allege caused the deaths of at least four patients.

A Topeka grand jury returned a 34-count indictment Thursday morning against Dr. Stephen J. Schneider, 54, and his wife, nurse Linda K. Schneider, 49.

The Schneiders are charged with one count of conspiracy, five counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, 11 counts of health care fraud, 13 counts of illegal monetary transactions and four counts of money laundering.

According to the indictment, 56 of Stephen Schneider's patients have died from accidental prescription drug overdoses in the past five years. However, only four deaths have been found to have been directly caused by drugs Schneider's clinic prescribed, the indictment said.

Schneider is not charged with killing any patients.

The person who answered the phone at the Schneider Medical Clinic on Thursday said there was no one available to comment about the indictment and did not know if the Schneiders had an attorney yet.

Christopher Cole and Steven Day, lawyers who have represented Stephen Schneider in several medical malpractice lawsuits, did not immediately return calls for comment.

References to ‘the pill man’
The 65-page indictment alleges that the doctor and his assistants wrote unlawful prescriptions for narcotic painkillers, muscle relaxers and other drugs. Drugs mentioned in the indictment included fentanyl, methadone, morphine and oxycodone.

The indictment also states that Schneider was known as "Schneider the Writer," "the pill man" and "the candy man."

According to the indictment, Linda Schneider bragged when interviewing prospective employees that the clinic, with its large number of pain-management patients, wrote more narcotics prescriptions than any other medical clinic in the state.

The indictment also says that Schneider Medical Clinic operated seven days a week and was open for 11 hours daily. Patients were scheduled 10 minutes apart and the clinic billed more than $4 million to health benefit programs, the indictment says.

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