Federal agents have expanded their investigation of pro wrestler Chris Benoit’s personal doctor to include former patients and other patients of his who have died, and they seized records dated as far back as 2002, two years earlier than previously acknowledged, The Associated Press has learned.
An affidavit by a federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent that was part of a warrant to search Dr. Phil Astin’s west Georgia office for a third time said investigators seized 68 boxes of documents, including patient records and billing statements, on Tuesday.
The affidavit said agents were looking for, in part, medical records of inactive or deceased patients, including medical tests, test results and physician notes.
The search followed a statement agents received last Friday from an unidentified source who was associated with Astin’s practice and has known him personally for about 10 years. The source said files for former patients or patients who have died may have been stored in a copy room at Astin’s office, the affidavit said.
The records “will be relevant and material to this ongoing investigation,” the affidavit said, without elaborating.
Also seized from Astin’s office, the affidavit states, were records of a Nov. 19, 2002, prescription for 200 mg of depo-testosterone, an injectable steroid, that was written for an unidentified patient. When Astin was charged last week with improperly prescribing medication to two patients other than Benoit, the indictment only referred to prescriptions dating to 2004.
A sheriff’s official previously said that Astin also is being investigated in the February 2006 death of another wrestler, Michael Durham. State officials have not returned repeated calls in recent days seeking details on that case.
The disclosure about the expanded federal investigation follows word earlier this week that federal prosecutors plan to seek a superseding indictment against Astin.
A court filing Tuesday said that prosecutors have advised Astin’s attorney, Manny Arora, that they will present the case to a grand jury for a second time “after a more thorough review” of documents seized from Astin’s office in Carrollton. The filing did not say what charges will be sought in the superseding indictment or when the indictment will be sought.
Arora said Thursday he wasn’t aware of the latest search of Astin’s office, but wasn’t surprised by it either.
“It’s their job to look through everything,” Arora said. “I want them to look through everything, so if there is an acquittal in this case there will be no more doubt about anything that Dr. Astin’s done,” Arora said.
Astin pleaded not guilty at his first court appearance.
Police have said Benoit strangled his wife and son, placing Bibles next to the bodies, and then hung himself on a piece of exercise equipment in his suburban Atlanta home the weekend of June 22.
Authorities found anabolic steroids in Benoit’s home, leading officials to wonder whether the drugs played a role in the killings. Some experts believe steroids can cause paranoia, depression and violent outbursts known as “roid rage.”
Another court affidavit said Astin prescribed a 10-month supply of anabolic steroids to Benoit every three to four weeks between May 2006 and May 2007.
Astin has told the AP he prescribed testosterone for Benoit, a longtime friend, in the past but has not said what, if any, medications he prescribed when Benoit visited his office June 22, the day authorities believe Benoit killed his wife.
Since the deaths, toxicology tests have been conducted on Benoit’s body to determine if steroids or other drugs were present. Blood-alcohol tests also were conducted on his body, and chemical tests were conducted on the bodies of the wife and son.
Some of the tests have been completed, but authorities are keeping the results secret until all the tests are complete.
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