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Family members of disgraced pharmacist Robert Courtney’s victims oppose potential early release

Posted: 10:54 AM, May 17, 2024
Updated: 2024-05-19 10:46:08-04
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Robert Courtney, the former pharmacist convicted of diluting cancer drugs for profit, could be out of prison by the end of the summer.

Family members of his victims are pleading with lawmakers to keep him behind bars for his entire 30-year sentence.

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Santana Cummings is the daughter of one of Courtney’s victims. Her mother, Sherri Carrott died at 33.

“When you are sick and vulnerable, you go to these people, you know, and they are supposed to be your savior,” Cummings said. “And she was taken advantage of and it’s really, really heartbreaking.”

Doctors diagnosed Carrott with non-hodgkin lymphoma about a year before her death.

Santana said her mother’s prognosis was filled with hope until pharmacist Robert Courtney entered the picture.

Courtney eventually pleaded guilty and admitted to diluting drugs for years.

Santana sat through court proceedings after her mother’s death reliving her pain, one that still aches today.

“It’s like being victimized all over again,” Cummings said. “It’s like we are having to go through this and relive this for a third time now when all we really want is for justice.”

Cummings and thousands of other people impacted by Courtney’s actions have been in this position before. In 2020, Courtney filed a motion for an early release.

Lawmakers like Sen. Josh Hawley (R - Missouri), Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D - Kansas City) jumped on board to block his release. A judge eventually denied Courtney’s motion.

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KSHB 41 reporter Abby Dodge and Santana Cummings.

“It did feel like a victory,” Cummings said. “I’ve never felt more empowered, ever.”

I asked Cummings if there is anything that gives her hope this time around.

“I keep telling myself to keep fighting,” she said. “I keep telling myself I am going to fight until he is released, even if I have to do it alone. I just want to be a voice for the people who don’t have a voice because so many people are gone.”

Cummings said thousands of families were not given the fighting chance their loved ones deserved.

The Bureau of Prisons said Courtney is eligible for time credits under the First Step Act, which could give him an early release, into his own home.

“And that is wrong on so many levels for all of these people and all of these families whose loved ones will never come home,” Cummings says.

Cleaver and Rep. Sam Graves (R - Kansas City) issued a letter addressed to the Attorney General and director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in late April.