POSTED: 02:05 p.m. HST, Jul 18, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 04:34 a.m. HST, Jul 19, 2013
DAVENPORT, Iowa » A former Muscatine doctor who was accused of prescribing drugs to his patients in exchange for sex was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison.
David Gierlus, 60, of Illinois City, Ill., received the sentence at a lengthy hearing where attorneys spent most of the time arguing over how much of a fine he should be given, the Quad-City Times reported.
Gierlus' attorney, Jeff Lang, suggested $12,000. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cliff Cronk asked for $500,000.
In the end, U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose gave Gierlus a hefty fine of $400,000. Lang had argued that national statistics from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration showed most fines in drug cases against doctors were below $10,000.
Gierlus' wife, who was described in a statement as battling cancer, sobbed as he was immediately taken into custody.
"My family is quite devastated by all that's been done," Gierlus said in the prepared statement. "I leave behind Kathy to battle cancer without me."
Court records show Gierlus, who was a doctor of osteopathic medicine, was accused of having sexual contact with 18 victims over several years, including three patients who were drugged before being assaulted.
Rose called Gierlus a "sexual predator" who preyed on vulnerable women. Rose said many of the victims were Medicaid patients and in one case, he gave rent money in exchange for sex.
Gierlus pleaded guilty in March to one count of unlawfully distributing a controlled substance. Nearly 100 counts were dismissed as part of a plea deal.
The newspaper reported that Gierlus said he considers his eight years a "life sentence" because he'll be 67 by the time he is released, and his wife may be dead by then.