Aug. 4—WILLIAMSPORT — Raymond Kraynak is headed to federal prison for 15 years after a federal judge denied the 64-year-old former Mount Carmel doctor a new trial Wednesday and sentenced him.
In a near-10-hour hearing, Kraynak testified for nearly three hours. He said his federal public defender, Thomas A. Thorton, pressured him into taking a plea agreement.
"I am absolutely 100 percent innocent of the charges," Kraynak testified.
Kraynak said he felt pressured into accepting the plea agreement, various constitutional issues occurred during the trial that were detrimental to the case and defense counsel failed to introduce exonerating evidence.
Kraynak unexpectedly pleaded guilty in September after 10 days of trial. The plea came the morning the defense was set to begin its case. As part of the plea deal, Kraynak was likely to face a maximum of 15 years in prison, a fine and probation to be determined, potential restitution to the victims and additional court fees and costs.
Kraynak attempted to withdraw a guilty plea to 12 felony counts of illegal distribution or dispensing of prescription drugs.
U.S. Judge Matthew Brann listened to Kraynak's testimony and after about three hours took the first break.
Kraynak said several times he only took the deal because he was convinced he couldn't move forward at trial without an expert witness to counter what the government was claiming.
Kraynak was led into the courtroom in a suit but was shackled and had a U.S. Marshal near him at all times.
Kraynak's family sat and listened to the testimony behind the defense table where Kraynak was questioned by his new attorney, Stephanie Cesare, of Carlise.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Behe cross-examined Kraynak and asked him a series of questions on whether or not Kraynak lied when he accepted the plea deal.
"Are you telling the court you lied to the judge when you said you were guilty?" he asked.
Kraynak replied, "Yes."
Kraynak said he was told to answer all questions with a yes reply by his attorneys prior to accepting the deal. A deal in which Kraynak said he had about 30 minutes to review.
Kraynak said when he answered yes, he "choked on his words."
Kraynak also said he felt bad for the patients that died because they were not just patients, but friends to him.
Kraynak said he understood that bringing back all the families of the victims would be traumatic but his life was on the line and he was "absolutely not guilty of the charges."
At the time of the plea agreement, Kraynak said, he understood he would not spend the full 15 years in prison.
"My attorneys kept saying they wanted to get me home," he said.
Behe asked Kraynak if he understood how many man hours the government put in on the case and that people came from all over the country to testify.
Kraynak said he understood but he filed the motion for a new trial because he did not have a proper defense. He accused the government of "cherry picking" witnesses.
"I told my attorneys that for every person you (Behe) put on the stand, I wanted to call 10. Or 20," Kraynak said. "Not only was this ineffective counsel but it was legal malpractice. What chance did I have in this? This plea agreement sat on my soul and I have had many sleepless nights."
Kraynak told Brann making the decision to plead guilty was "the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life."
"Admitting guilt to something I didn't do was horrible," Kraynak said.
Brann denied the motion for the withdrawal and sentenced Kraynak to 15 years in federal prison.
After the hearing, family members of Kraynak told The Daily Item they requested Kraynak be placed in a federal institution in the Valley.
If that were to happen Kraynak could be placed in Allenwood, Lewisburg or FCI Schuykill.
Family members said Kraynak would appeal Brann's decision.
Federal agents arrested Kryanak on Dec. 21, 2017. The indictment stated Kraynak allegedly prescribed more than six million opioids, such as Oxycontin, Vicodin and fentanyl, between May 2012 and July 2017, and was responsible for the deaths of five patients
After pleading guilty, the remainder of the charges — five felony counts of illegal distribution or dispensing resulting in death and two felony counts of maintaining drug-involved premises for his offices in Mount Carmel and Shamokin — were dropped.