Attorney: Benoit's Doctor Charged With Improperly Prescribing Drugs In Federal Probe

By HARRY R. WEBER
Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA (AP) - The personal doctor of Chris Benoit was charged Monday with improperly dispensing painkillers and other drugs to patients other than the pro wrestler.

The seven-count indictment said Dr. Phil Astin dispensed drugs including Percocet, Xanax, Lorcet and Vicoprofen between April 2004 and September 2005.

The recipients were identified in the indictment by the initials O.G. and M.J. Benoit's initials were not listed.

Astin was expected to make an initial court appearance Monday afternoon.

A criminal complaint was also filed, but was under seal. A law enforcement official close to the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity before the hearing, said the case involves steroids.

Federal drug agents have taken over the probe into whether Astin improperly prescribed testosterone and other drugs to Benoit before the wrestler killed his wife and son and committed suicide in his suburban Atlanta home last month. State prosecutors and sheriff's officials are overseeing the death investigation.

Federal prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of all property and proceeds Astin obtained through the illegal conduct if he's convicted.

Investigators have conducted two raids at Astin's west Georgia office since last week.

Astin 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.

Toxicology tests on Benoit's body have not yet been completed, Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard said.

Anabolic steroids were found 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."

"We're still asking questions and searching for answers with regard to the death so we can tie up loose ends," Ballard said.

Ballard said finding a motive in the case remains elusive.

"I think it will always be undetermined as to 'Why?"' Ballard said. "I think it's because there can't be any satisfactory reason why you kill a 7-year-old."

Authorities have said Benoit strangled his wife and son, placing Bibles next to their bodies, before hanging himself on the cable of a weight-machine in his home.

Benoit's father, Michael, said Monday that "it's impossible to come up with a rational explanation for a very irrational act."

"That's my feeling. Let the cards fall where they fall, we have no control over it at this point," he said. "It's just impossible to come up with a rational explanation for what happened."

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Associated Press writers Errin Haines and Greg Bluestein in Atlanta and Matt Apuzzo in Washington contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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