SALT LAKE CITY — A judge chided federal prosecutors Wednesday for now wanting to seize money and property from convicted pill doctor Dewey C. MacKay.
Saying they have already taken the doctor's liberty, U.S. District Judge Dee Benson asked prosecutors why they don't take his clothes, too.
"It seems like you want everything you can possibly get out of this man," Benson said during a court hearing. "Why not take everything?"
He said the prosecution has "crossed the line into almost vindictiveness."
While Benson said he's not inclined to require MacKay to forfeit his medical license, a 2007 Chevy pickup and $72,000 from his Brigham City orthopedic clinic, he said he's also not inclined to let the doctor remain free pending an appeal of his conviction.
Benson begrudgingly sentenced MacKay last month to 20 years in prison for illegally prescribing painkillers that led to the death of one of his patients. The judge called the sentence too harsh, but said federal minimum-mandatory sentencing guidelines left him no choice.
MacKay is scheduled to begin serving the term Feb. 1. His attorneys filed a notice of appeal with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and seek to keep him out of prison while the case runs its course.
Benson didn't hear arguments on that Wednesday, but while scheduling a hearing on the matter for next week said he's not inclined to let MacKay remain free.
Wednesday's hearing was confined to forfeiture issues.
Federal prosecutors say MacKay owes the government proceeds from his clinic and property used to facilitate his crimes, specifically his medical license, pickup and clinic bank accounts. The proceeds total $2,520, or $70 for each office visit the doctor billed for 36 counts on which he was convicted.
Defense attorney Nathan Crane didn't dispute the $2,520 but said prosecutors failed to show any connection between the other items and MacKay's conviction. The government, he said, has already taken MacKay's Drug Enforcement Agency registration to dispense drugs.
Benson took the arguments under advisement but said he's not inclined to award the government anything beyond the $2,520.