Pill mill doctor denied bail

By The Mercury

TOPEKA — A Manhattan physician accused of illegally distributing painkillers was denied bail on Tuesday.

Federal Magistrate Judge Gary Sebelius denied Dr. Michael P. Schuster’s request for bail while he awaits his May 2014 trial.

Schuster, 53, was indicted in May on charges that he signed blank prescription pads that his staff used to distribute painkillers at Manhattan Pain and Spine, 1135 Westport Drive, while he was traveling the world.

Schuster’s indictment alleges that 542 patients received prescription painkillers, including oxycodone, morphine and hydrocodone, while he was away.

Though Schuster’s attorneys said he and his wife sold their foreign assets in an effort to contend he wasn’t a flight risk, Sebelius wrote in his opinion that the charges were too serious to grant bail.

The doctor was arrested April 23 at Manhattan Regional Airport.

One of Shuster’s former employees, Sarah Harding-Huffine, 29, was also indicted based on allegations that she wrote prescriptions for more than 20 people.

Schuster is charged of conspiracy to illegally distribute controlled substances, drug distribution, unlawfully distributing drugs to a person under 21 years old and using and maintaining a premises for drug distribution.

Harding-Huffine is charged of one count of conspiracy to distribute drugs and one count of drug distribution.

According to court filings by federal prosecutors, Schuster could get an amended indictment.

On Wednesday, attorneys for the government and Schuster filed a motion for the court to postpone a hearing set for Nov. 4 to consider the potential changes.

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