Doctor for wrestler who killed family, self faces expanded federal probe - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Doctor for wrestler who killed family, self faces expanded federal probe

ATLANTA (AP) - Federal agents have expanded their investigation of pro wrestler Chris Benoit's personal doctor to include former patients and other patients of his who have died, The Associated Press has learned.

An affidavit by a federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent that was part of a warrant to search Dr. Phil Astin's west Georgia office for a third time said investigators on Tuesday seized 68 boxes of documents, including patient records and billing statements.

The affidavit said agents were in part looking for medical records of inactive or deceased patients, including medical tests, test results and physician notes.

The search followed a statement agents received last Friday from an unidentified source who was associated with Astin's practice and has known him personally for about 10 years. The source said files for former patients or patients who have died may have been stored in a copy room at Astin's office, the affidavit said.

The records "will be relevant and material to this ongoing investigation," the affidavit said, without elaborating.

Also seized from Astin's office, the affidavit states, were records of a Nov. 19, 2002, prescription for 200 mg of the injectable steroid depo-testosterone that was written for an unidentified patient.

A sheriff's official previously said that Astin also is being investigated in the February 2006 death of another wrestler, Michael Durham. State officials have not returned repeated calls in recent days seeking details on that case.

Last week, Astin pleaded not guilty to federal charges of improperly prescribing painkillers and other drugs to two patients other than Benoit in 2004 and 2005. He was released on $125,000 bond, but is restricted to his home except in limited circumstances.

Court documents filed Tuesday disclosed that federal prosecutors plan to seek a superseding federal indictment against Astin after reviewing documents seized from his Carrollton office.       Astin's lawyer, Manny Arora, said Thursday he wasn't aware of the latest search of Astin's office, but wasn't surprised by it either.

"It's their job to look through everything," Arora said. "I want them to look through everything, so if there is an acquittal in this case there will be no more doubt about anything that Dr. Astin's done."

Police have said Benoit strangled his wife and son and then hanged himself on a piece of exercise equipment in his suburban Atlanta home the weekend of June 22.

Authorities found anabolic steroids in Benoit's home. Some experts believe steroids can cause paranoia, depression and violent outbursts known as "roid rage."

Another court affidavit said Astin prescribed a 10-month supply of anabolic steroids to Benoit every three to four weeks between May 2006 and May 2007.

Astin has told the AP he prescribed testosterone for Benoit, a longtime friend, in the past but has not said what, if any, medications he prescribed when Benoit visited his office June 22, the day authorities believe Benoit killed his wife.

Since the deaths, toxicology tests have been conducted on Benoit's body to determine if steroids or other drugs were present. Blood-alcohol tests also were conducted on his body, and chemical tests were conducted on the bodies of the wife and son.

Some of the tests have been completed, but authorities are keeping the results secret until all the tests are complete.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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