The doctor who prescribed steroids to Chris Benoit, the professional wrestler who killed his wife, son and then himself in June 2007, on Thursday pleaded guilty to illegally dispensing drugs.
The plea by Phil Astin III (pictured at right) reversed the Carrollton doctor’s original not guilty plea to 175 counts of unlawful drug distribution.
Astin could face up to 20 years in prison, and $1 million in fines, for each count. Prosecutors say Benoit became addicted by the drugs Astin prescribed to the wrestler and his wife, Nancy. On June 22, 2007, authorities believe Chris Benoit killed his wife and his mentally impaired 7-year-old son, then hanged himself. Chris and Nancy Benoit were two of 19 patients who obtained illegal prescriptions from Astin, prosecutors said. "This case demonstrat es the irreparable damage that can be done when a doctor violates his oath to help others and instead chooses the path of illegal drug dealing," U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said in a prepared statement.
"We will continue to work hard to ensure that [Astin] receives an appropriate sentence that assures he is never able to harm anyone again," Nahmias said. Prosecutors say that beginning in May 2002, Astin prescribed hundreds of drugs illegally. The medications include Percocet, Oxycontin, Demorol, Ritalin, Vicodin and Adderall.
Astin is scheduled to be sentenced on May 12.