Siobhan Reynolds has spent years crusading on behalf of chronic pain patients — testifying before Congress, suing government drug regulators and speaking out against what she believes is a government crackdown on prescription painkillers that has left many patients needlessly suffering.
But as the case of a Kansas physician linked to 68 overdose deaths wraps up in a federal courtroom in Wichita, the fiery patient advocate has found herself in an uncomfortable new role: fighting a secret federal investigation targeting her over a possible conspiracy to obstruct justice for her involvement in that case.
Reynolds, the president of the Pain Relief Network, championed the defense of physician Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda. The Haysville couple were convicted of unlawfully writing prescriptions leading to death, health care fraud and money laundering.
Reynolds has become a leading voice for pain-relief advocates after the 2003 arrest of William Hurwitz, whose pain management clinic in a suburb of Washington, D.C., once treated Reynolds' late husband, Sean Greenwood, who suffered from a painful connective-tissue disorder.
Her initial refusal to turn over e-mails and other subpoenaed documents related to the Kansas case has already led to a contempt citation and cost Reynolds and her nonprofit group $36,500 in fines before the money ran out. Faced with imminent jailing for contempt, Reynolds relented and turned over some 4,000 pages of subpoenaed material three weeks before the Schneiders' trial.
"I am being beaten up in the dark by the government," Reynolds said. "They have taken everything I have. They have coerced me into violating all kinds of oaths I had held firm. But when push came to shove at the very end here, I decided I would be more valuable to the Schneiders and this country out than in."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway declined to discuss the grand jury investigation, which has been vaguely referenced in documents in the Schneider case.