Former doctor John Toth faces federal case
By Steve Fry
Published Saturday, December 06, 2008
A former Topeka physician already serving time in the death of a patient has been indicted on 13 federal counts tied to selling medical equipment and drug treatments for a nonexistent epidemic of Lyme disease, authorities announced Friday.
Imprisoned physician John R. Toth, as well as Robert W. Bradford, 77, and Brigitte G. Byrd, 63, both of Chula Vista, Calif., are charged in a 25-count indictment with violating the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The indictment charges the three with conspiring to sell a microscope that allegedly would diagnose Lyme disease and drugs that would treat it, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
C.R.B. Inc., of Chula Vista, Calif., doing business as American Biologics, also was indicted.
Toth, 59, of Topeka, was sentenced to 32 months in state prison in March after he pleaded no contest in November 2007 to a reduced charge of reckless involuntary manslaughter in the April 20, 2006, death of a patient, Beverly A. Wunder, 47, of Topeka.
Toth, who surrendered his medical license in January 2008, originally faced a charge of reckless second-degree murder after he treated Wunder for Lyme disease with a substance not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
"It makes me feel bad for him because he's been through hell," Topeka attorney Mark Bennett said Friday of the federal charges. Bennett represented Toth in the Shawnee County case.
As of Friday, Bennett wasn't representing Toth in the federal case. Bennett said he assumed the federal district court would appoint an attorney to defend Toth.
"Mr. Toth is destitute," Bennett said. It is possible the court could appoint him to represent Toth, Bennett said.
Toth's initial appearance in federal court will be Jan. 13, said Jim Cross, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office. U.S. Magistrate Judge David Waxse will preside at the Robert J. Dole U.S. Courthouse in Kansas City, Kan. Bradford and Byrd each will be issued a summons to appear at the hearing, Cross said.
In that hearing, charges will be read to the defendants, each will plead not guilty and each will say whether he or she has an attorney.
Cross said the U.S. Attorney's Office hadn't recommended what bond Bradford and Byrd should post.
Toth is serving his state sentence at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility.
When Toth was sentenced, Shawnee County District Attorney Robert Hecht said part of the purpose of the case was to obtain as much information as possible from Toth for the FDA on an ongoing investigation in Colorado, California and the Southwest "similar to the present case."
Wunder and a second patient, who also was treated for Lyme disease but recovered, received intravenous infusions of a "heavy metal" known as bismuth, an "unauthorized, inappropriate and professionally unrecognized" treatment by the medical profession that isn't sanctioned by the FDA, Hecht said. Wunder became ill on April 18, 2005, then died a year and two days later.
District Judge Jan Leuenberger rejected placing Toth on probation, saying he didn't operate his medical practice with care, manipulated his patients and acted recklessly with gross disregard for Wunder.
See the thread "Bismuth injecting Lyme doctor goes to prison" for background: viewtopic.php?f=12&p=6149