BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (WDAF) – A pharmacist who diluted medications that were supposed to be life-saving treatments for cancer patients will soon be released from prison.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Robert Courtney will be moved to a halfway house this week after spending less than 20 years behind bars in a drug scandal that made national news.
The government says Courtney is receiving a compassionate release because of the coronavirus pandemic. The federal authorities believe Courtney has little risk of re-offending.
But that’s no consolation for people like Craig Picard, who lost his mother to cancer in 2000. Courtney provided watered-down medication to Picard’s mother, pocketing the profits and dashing all hope for survival for Picard’s mother and thousands of others.
“His sentence is for 30 years,” Picard said. “We are looking at less than 30 years. This is a gentleman with grave problems with having so many people involved. Who can tell how many people that he really affected lives and killed?”
Attorney Michael Ketchmark also criticized the release, claiming systemic racism. He said it doesn’t make sense to set free a privileged man responsible for the deaths of thousands while others convicted of drug crimes have to serve their full sentences.
Picard was part of a group of victims’ families that sued Courtney and the drug makers.
“Other people don’t have as many people that they kill, and they have death sentences or life in prison,” Picard said.
The group eventually received a settlement totalling more than $100 million dollars. Picard said he’d gladly give it all back to have a few more years with his mom.