WJHL.com - Dr. Kincaid begs judge for mercy, congressman and sheriff write

Dr. Kincaid begs judge for mercy, congressman and sheriff write letters on his behalf

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GREENEVILLE, TN (WJHL) -

In a letter written from Dr. William Kincaid to a federal judge, the founder of the Mcleod Cancer Center begs for mercy, asking the judge to grant him probation instead of the three-year maximum prison sentence prosecutors are seeking.

In addition, among the more than 50 character letters written on Dr. Kincaid's behalf, are letters from Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN) and Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal.

In the letter from Dr. Kincaid, filed in federal court earlier this week, Dr. Kincaid owns up to his mistakes, saying "I do realize that laws of the USA were broken and I am responsible...Laws were broken on my watch and as a leader I have failed miserably. I have no one to blame but myself."

The now retired doctor is set to be sentenced on June 10th for giving patients unapproved cancer drugs. Dr. Kincaid formally pleaded guilty in December to one count of receiving in interstate commerce a misbranded drug.

"The consequences have been severe," Dr. Kincaid said in six paragraph letter to the judge. "I have failed my patients and their families, my friends, my profession - for which I took an oath, which was violated just as were U.S. Laws. Letting down my family is probably my greatest disappointment. I am one of those people who is usually harder on myself than others are, so if you send me to prison I will understand." 

Prosecutors argue Dr. Kincaid's driving forces for breaking the law were money and greed. Because that decision created a "substantial risk of harm to patients," prosecutors believe Kincaid should spend the maximum three years behind bars.

"Receiving and dispensing unapproved drugs is a serious offence creating a substantial risk of harm to patients," Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Smith wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed earlier this month. "Any attempt to minimize the danger presented simply shows a callous disregard for the well-being of seriously ill persons who have entrusted their health care to providers whose over-arching goal should have been to treat their illness, not profit from it."

Not only that, federal prosecutors say this case should set an example when it comes to deterring similar crimes.

"If health care providers believe the only consequence of placing patients at risk by circumventing the FDCA's regulatory scheme is to disgorge fraudulently obtained reimbursement, they will chose (sic) to take the financial risk," Smith continued. "However, if individuals understand that they face criminal conviction and imprisonment, such conduct will be deterred."

That said, Dr. Kincaid's attorney has a different opinion. Attorney Guy Blackwell argues every drug seized by the Federal Drug Administration, although misbranded, had the appropriate active ingredient and not a single one of those drugs was proven to be fake, meaning the risk to patients was not as prosecutors describe.

"The Government bases its sentencing recommendation on the risk of harm to patients," Blackwell said in a sentencing memorandum filed earlier this week. "It uses words like 'may have' and speculates what could have happened if the chemotherapy drugs were fake or counterfeit, while ignoring the fact that no evidence exists or establish any patient was harmed at McLeod...though the FDA had possession of the drugs for ten months and could have tested or had the particular manufacturer test to determine their effectiveness. This did not happen."

Blackwell left the judge with his conclusion.

"Dr. William Ralph Kincaid is a good man and outstanding oncologist, who has lived a life full of good works and saved lives," Blackwell said. "He had enviable reputation and was a long-term supporter of his family, patients, friends, church, charities and the community. Then he made the mistake of his life. As two of the letters to the Court simply stated, 'Since he has been convicted of a felony Dr. Kincaid has lost everything he worked for all these years, he has lost his practice, his medical license, his career, his reputation and most importantly, his ability to care for patients. He will never gain any of these back. He has already suffered greatly for these losses and will continue to do so for years.' 'I hope the Court will look at his case with the same kind of compassion and concern he has shown his patients through his medical career.'"

Dr. Kincaid is hoping the judge will be lenient.

"As the senior partner, I failed in my mission, which was to provide oversight," the letter concludes. "I regret that I misled the nurses and other dedicated employees at McLeod. McLeod and I spun out of control, and here I am, begging for mercy."

Campaign finance filings reveal Dr. Kincaid has donated money to Rep. Phil Roe's congressional campaign in the past. Roe, a retired doctor himself, wrote a character letter on Kincaid's behalf.

"There are former patients of mine who would have died without his expertise and help," an excerpt of Roe's letter reads. "Never once was I asked when I referred a patient to his office could they pay, never. He saw all patients regardless of their financial status."

When asked why Congressman Roe decided to vouch for Dr. Kincaid, spokesperson Tiffany McGuffee offered a statement by email.

"Dr. Roe has known Dr. Kincaid for years in a professional and personal capacity, is disappointed about the whole situation and in his personal - not official - capacity, wrote a character reference letter on Dr. Kincaid's behalf," McGuffee said.

Sheriff Ed Graybeal also wrote a character letter.

"I feel Dr. Kincaid and his family have been punished and suffered enough," an excerpt of Sheriff Graybeal's letter reads. "The emotional, mental, and financial devastation they have undergone since this has happened has been overwhelming. With this in mind, I feel he deserves probation instead of incarceration."

When asked why Sheriff Graybeal wrote the letter, he said he was approached by Dr. Kincaid's attorneys after the retired doctor had already pleaded guilty.

"He already pleaded guilty and I believe he's not going to go anywhere if he's on probation," Sheriff Graybeal said. "He was our family doctor."

 To read the entire letter, click here. 

Copyright 2013 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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