The sentencing hearing for former ER doc Louis Hampers has been delayed once again. Charged with writing 654 phony prescriptions in 2009 and 2010, Hampers pleaded guilty this past July to much less: fourteen counts of prescription drug fraud. His sentencing hearing was rescheduled from October to tomorrow, but it's now delayed again. The reason? So prosecutors can respond to a request from Hampers's defense lawyers that he be sentenced to probation, not prison.
Hampers was also the subject of a civil lawsuit filed by former 9News reporter Deborah Sherman, claiming that he stalked her after she broke a second date with him. The lawsuit has since been settled.
Sherman, who has since left 9News, said she suspected he was using drugs. According to Hampers's lawyers, she was right; they've said their client personally took all of the 20,000 pills he was accused of illegally obtaining, including generic Vicodin, Valium and Ambien. In a motion filed last week, they argue that's one of the reasons the former doctor should be sentenced to probation.
"There is no evidence whatsoever that Dr. Hampers was selling or distributing to others," they wrote. "This case deals only with Dr. Hampers's personal consumption of the unlawfully obtained drugs to feed his addiction."
Sentencing guidelines call for Hampers to serve twelve to eighteen months in prison and pay a fine of $3,000 to $30,000. Instead, his lawyers are asking for a sentence of probation "conditional on (Hampers's) supervised involvement" in an "extensive treatment program" that would include psychiatric treatment and medication, group and individual therapy, participation in a twelve-step recovery program and a group for healthcare professionals battling addiction, and random urine monitoring.
They say Hampers's downfall, which included surrendering his medical license, was caused by a "perfect storm" of drug addiction, a personality disorder and a mental condition. They do not describe the disorder or the condition in detail.
But they say that his accomplishments beforehand should be considered when deciding his sentence. They cite the year Hampers spent practicing medicine in Kenya, his leadership as the section chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Children's Hospital in Aurora and his commitment to helping non-English speaking patients.
"Dr. Hampers has suffered a great deal," his lawyers wrote. "His present ability to practice medicine is gone. His marriage is gone. The respect of the community and many of his colleagues is gone." Plus, they say, he spent thirty days in custody after his arrest.
Hampers's lawyers also quote several doctors familiar with Hampers's case who say that probation is the proper punishment. "The type of treatment available to an inmate with the federal system is not comparable to the treatment presently available to Dr. Hampers," his lawyers wrote, noting that Hampers -- who earned $206,000 a year at Children's and whose family is wealthy -- has been able to pay for top-flight treatment.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Blackburn ruled this week to delay Hampers's sentencing hearing, which was scheduled for tomorrow, to give prosecutors time to respond to the defense's motion. They have until February 6 to do so.
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