Coverage of the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell

Gosnell to Change Plea in Federal Court

Dr. Kermit Gosnell is indicted on nearly two dozen felonies for running an alleged pill mill out of his abortion clinic

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Former abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell is led from the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center after being found guilty of first-degree murder. (Published Tuesday, May 28, 2013)

    Former Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell is expected to stand before a judge next week for a Change in Plea hearing in his federal narcotics case.

    Gosnell, who was sentenced to three life terms for the murder of babies during late-term abortions and in the death of a former patient earlier this month, still faces trial for nearly two dozen narcotics crimes.

    The 72-year-old was indicted in December 2011 on 23 felonies including distribution of controlled substances and continuing a criminal enterprise.

    A hearing notice regarding the plea was filed Tuesday in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

    Gosnell previously pleaded not guilty to the crimes in January 2012.

    Federal prosecutors allege Gosnell started running a pill mill out of his clinic, the Women's Medical Society, in July 2009.

    Gosnell would charge patients $20 -- if they were paying cash -- to write prescriptions for narcotics such as oxycodone, alprazolam and cough medicine with codeine, according to the indictment. Customers with insurance would pay $10.

    Patients would also pay tips to clinic employees of $10 to $20 per set of prescriptions. The patients would then go to pharmacies and have them filled.

    Prosecutors say in February 2010 Gosnell wrote as many as 200 prescriptions in one night for controlled substances. In all, thousands of narcotics prescriptions written by the doctor were filled at pharmacies from 2008 through 2010, according to the indictment.

    The indictment alleges patients did not need to speak with Gosnell to obtain a refill.

    Gosnell made more than $200,000 from the alleged acts, according to prosecutors.

    It was agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigations who initially alerted Philadelphia authorities to the crimes going on in his clinic.

    Agents raided the facility at 3801 Lancaster Avenue on February 10, 2010 to investigate a tip that the doctor was running a pill mill. Once inside, they found unsanitary conditions -- including blood-stained rooms, old equipment and untrained staff.

    Aborted fetuses were stored in a basement freezer in plastic food containers and bags next to employee lunches. Severed feet from aborted babies were found preserved in jars around the clinic.

    The conditions found inside the clinic led Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams to call the clinic a "house of horrors" in a 2011 grand jury report.

    Gosnell was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of seven babies. Prosecutors said he delivered the babies alive during late-term abortions, before snipping their necks with scissors.

    The doctor was eventually found guilty of murder in three of the deaths, involuntary manslaughter in the overdose death of patient Karnamaya Mongar and more than 200 abortion procedure violations.

    Gosnell gave up his right to appeal a death sentence in exchange for consecutive life sentences.

    Following his sentencing, he was transferred from city custody to the Federal Detention Center just off Independence Mall.

    The Change in Plea hearing is scheduled for next Thursday.

    Calls to Gosnell's attorney, Jack McMahon, asking whether his client will be in court for the proceedings have yet to be returned.