Prosecutor: Pharmacist who allegedly diluted drugs asked family to destroy evidence

Friday, November 30th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A pharmacist accused of diluting chemotherapy drugs called family members from jail and asked them to destroy evidence, a prosecutor said in a motion opposing the druggist's release on bail.

Robert R. Courtney has been held without bond since his arrest Aug. 15. He pleaded innocent to 20 federal counts of tampering, adulterating and misbranding two chemotherapy drugs delivered to a Kansas City oncologist.

Defense lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith to set bail, saying there was no evidence that Courtney was a flight risk or a danger to the community.

In a response filed Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gene Porter cited phone conversations in which, he said, Courtney asked his wife and father to get rid of documents.

``This evidence is indicative of (Courtney's) willingness to engage in deception and deceit ... even while incarcerated,'' Porter wrote.

Jean Paul Bradshaw II, one of Courtney's lawyers, said Thursday he had not seen the motion but said, ``I see no evidence to support this. I take all these allegations with a grain of salt.''

Asked whether any relatives could face charges, U.S. attorney's spokesman Chris Whitley said the investigation is continuing and charges may result if evidence is developed.

It was not clear from the court filing if the relatives acted on his alleged requests.

Phone calls from jail are regularly recorded as a security measure.

Court records show that Courtney called his wife at about 10 p.m. on Aug. 15 and ``instructed her to destroy evidence located in the trunk of his car.'' His wife asked him if there was ``anything else that needs to be found and taken care of,'' according to the court records.

On the afternoon of Aug. 19, according to the court records, Courtney phoned his father and directed him to obtain papers or a title to ``the villa'' from a safe-deposit box and get rid of them.

The government's motion does not elaborate on the villa. However, on Aug. 20, prosecutors claimed Courtney had considered buying a condominium on the Caribbean island of St. Croix and had tried to transfer more than $2 million to the Cayman Islands.

Porter's motion also contends that Courtney called his father, who worked at his pharmacy, on Aug. 28 and directed that his daughter be paid $6,000, even though she usually was paid $1,500. Courtney also doubled his father's monthly $500 check and ordered it paid immediately. Courtney's father, the motion notes, usually was paid on the 15th of the month.

Courtney ``and his wife obstruct justice and destroy evidence together,'' Porter wrote. ``He instructs his father to pay his children for work that was not performed and for which payment was not due. These are the same persons the defendant tells the court it can rely upon to post (bond) for his appearance.''