Former Spectranetics CEO sentenced to year of probation

May 29, 2012
photo - John Schulte, the former head of Colorado Springs-based medical laser manufacturer Spectranetics Corp., shown in 2008. Photo by THE GAZETTE FILE
John Schulte, the former head of Colorado Springs-based medical laser manufacturer Spectranetics Corp., shown in 2008. Photo by THE GAZETTE FILE 

John Schulte, the former head of Colorado Springs-based medical laser manufacturer Spectranetics Corp., was sentenced Tuesday to one year of probation in connection with his March 1 conviction on a single count of lying to federal investigators.

The sentence was handed down by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Wiley Daniel in Denver. Schulte faced up to three years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines; the U.S. Attorney’s Office had recommended that he be sentenced to two years in prison and three years of probation.

Schulte’s conviction resulted from a 2010 federal grand jury indictment against him, two other Spectranetics executives and a contractor. The indictment stemmed from an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection of allegations that Spectranetics illegally imported and marketed unapproved medical devices.

Schulte was acquitted in March on 11 other charges that included conspiring to defraud the federal government and smuggling unapproved medical devices into the country that allegedly were used on patients. He resigned as president, CEO and a director of Spectranetics in 2008.

He will serve his one-year probation without reporting requirements or home confinement, said his attorney Thomas L. Kirsch of Chicago. The judge did order Schulte to pay a $5,000 fine — which he paid Tuesday — and to perform 100 hours of community service, Kirsch said. Schulte lives in the Boston area.

Under applicable sentencing rules, Kirsch said, the one year of probation was the least amount of punishment the judge could have handed down. That was appropriate, he said, since Schulte was acquitted of 11 of 12 counts and that the charge of lying to investigators was a small part of the case against him. Schulte also has led “an exemplary life,” been a successful businessman and submitted dozens of letters from co-workers who supported leniency in the case.

“I clearly think a sentence greater than that (one year of probation) would not have been warranted under the circumstances,” Kirsch said.

Jeff Dorschner, a U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman, said "while the government argued that a two-year prison sentence was appropriate, given the nature of the crime, we respect the decision of the court, which has the ultimate authority to impose sentence.”

Trung Pham, a former business development manager for Spectranetics also indicted in the 2010 case, was acquitted of all five charges against him in the same trial that resulted in Schulte’s conviction. Federal prosecutors later dropped all charges against Obinna Adighije, the company’s former vice president of business development who now lives in the San Diego area.

No sentencing date has been set for Hernan Ricuarte, a representative for BAC, a Florida company hired by Spectranetics to identify makers of parts for the company’s medical lasers and catheters. He pleaded guilty in August to a single count of concealing a felony by sending an e-mail to a Spectranetics employee acknowledging and promoting the use of false invoices for the Japanese guidewires. As part of a plea agreement with him, prosecutors agreed to seek probation for Ricuarte.

Spectranetics settled the allegations raised in the investigation in 2009 for $5 million in penalties and forfeitures, in exchange for avoiding prosecution as a company.

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