February 14, 2008
Buffalo, NY -- Dr. Steven Kurtz's friend and former co-defendent Dr. Robert Ferrell was sentenced in federal district court on Monday.
Dr. Ferrell was fined $500 and was given one year of "unsupervised release," meaning he will not have to report to federal probation officers. He pleaded “guilty” last October to a misdemeanor due to severe health problems.
After reading what he called numerous "powerful" and "very strong" letters of support from colleagues and the Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, Judge Richard Arcara said he gave Ferrell "the most lenient sentence I could give."
Ferrell could have been fined $5,000 and sentenced to six months in jail.
It was an emotionally wrenching scene. Supporters packed the courtroom, along with Ferrell's wife and sister-in-law and former co-defendent Kurtz. Several people wept as the judge read the ruling.
Dr. Dianne Raeke Ferrell said the prosecution has been “extremely stressful” for her husband. Dr. Robert Ferrell has had several recurrences of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma since being diagnosed in 1980, and has had three strokes since he and Kurtz were indicted on federal "mail fraud" charges in 2004.
"The whole thing is ridiculous and has mushroomed into something it should never have become." she said, adding, “Although Bob did plead guilty, I still support Steve Kurtz."
Dr. Kurtz is awaiting a ruling on the motions to dismiss his case. March 7 is the final deadline for all papers to be filed, after which Judge Arcara will make the ruling.