RENO, Nev. (AP) - A lawyer for a Reno doctor accused of trafficking illegal human growth hormone to patients said Thursday he's trying to force Nevada first lady Dawn Gibbons to testify in a federal trial that he claims stems from a politically motivated prosecution.
Dr. James W. Forsythe, husband of former Nevada Republican Party
Chairwoman Earlene Forsythe, is a homeopathic physician in Reno who
is accused of twice selling vials of Bio-Tropin to an undercover Food and Drug Administration agent in 2004.
"It's political," Kevin Mirch, the doctor's lawyer, said of the reason for the prosecution. He declined to elaborate, saying details would come out in the trial expected to continue through next week in U.S. District Court in Reno.
Earlene Forsythe headed the state GOP when Gibbons launched her campaign for the congressional seat held by her husband, Republican
Jim Gibbons, who was elected governor in 2006. Dean Heller ended up
winning the contentious Republican primary for the House seat.
Mirch confirmed in an interview with The Associated Press before a late afternoon hearing on a motion to quash some of his subpoenas that Dawn Gibbons is on a list of at least 35 witnesses he has subpoenaed to testify during the trial. But he declined to comment
on why she was chosen.
Dawn Gibbons' name is among those on an exhibit federal prosecutors have introduced into evidence - a ledger agents seized from the doctor's office with the names of his patients. Also on that ledger is the name of Jerry Bussell, the state's chief of homeland security under former Gov. Kenny Guinn.
Bussell's wife, Reno attorney Pat Lundvall, went before Judge Howard McKibben to move to quash a subpoena late Thursday but it wasn't immediately clear who was the target of that subpoena other than it was a woman.
Lundvall told the judge she didn't want to say the name of the subpoenaed person in question in open court because "there has
been press attention brought to the matter."
When Mirch objected, the judge instructed Lundvall to tell the name to Mirch and she subsequently wrote the name on a yellow legal pad and showed it to him.
McKibben then refused to rule on the motion, saying he wouldn't act on it until the witness in question was called to testify.
Lundvall told McKibben the witness in question was not her husband. She told AP after the hearing she would not comment on whether it was Gibbons.
"I have no idea where that is coming from," she said.
Mirch told McKibben that Lundvall - who Gov. Gibbons recently appointed to the Nevada Athletic Commission that oversees boxing in
the state - shouldn't be allowed to represent anyone in the case because she also has represented the Forsythes in the past.
"Her dual representation creates an enormous conflict. It makes her a witness," Mirch said. "It is not proper for her to come in and protect someone on a multitude of issues that are political issues."
"Her husband (Bussell) was one of the people recommending the drugs in a brochure," he said.
Mirch told the judge that Bussell initially told a defense investigator in the case that he would testify but later changed his mind and said he couldn't "because of his wife."
Mirch said after the hearing he could not discuss the matter further because the way the judge handled the witness' name in court suggested the name was not to be publicized. But he said he intends to call as witnesses people who were Forsythe's patients.
Dawn Gibbons could not be reached for comment Thursday night. Melissa Subbotin, the governor's press secretary, said Dawn Gibbons
was not immediately available to comment. Subbotin said it was a personal matter, not a state government matter, and referred any questions to Lundvall.
Mirch said he plans to resubmit a subpoena that was earlier quashed for former U.S. Attorney for Nevada Daniel Bogden. Bogden was dismissed last year in the Justice Department's controversial prosecutor firings.
Mirch also declined to comment on why he wants Bogden to testify.
The prosecution has been presenting witnesses since the trial began Monday, and the defense was expected to follow with its witnesses next week.
Special Agent John Zalinsky testified that he told Forsythe he was referred to him by a friend whom the doctor was treating with HGM to feel younger.
Dr. Forsythe, 69, is accused of trafficking Bio-Tropin to patients for anti-aging purposes and of dispensing the drug for unapproved treatment.
Prosecutors said using HGH as a medical treatment is limited to illnesses mostly in children, dwarfs and sometimes in AIDS patients.
"You can't use HGM for anti-aging," Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Sullivan said in opening arguments Monday.
"He caused the introduction of this drug into commerce with the intent to defraud and mislead patients by not telling them it was not approved by the FDA or that is was not for sale in the United States," Sullivan added.
But Mirch contends Bio-Tropin is approved and "perfectly legal," and that the case concerns a former FBI agent who wanted to "catch a doctor."
Mirch has asked McKibben to dismiss the case because of alleged falsification of records by the government. Mirch contends the labels on two boxes of the drug seized in a raid had the name of another doctor.
The defense is facing a noon Friday deadline to submit a written motion, while the prosecution has until noon Monday to respond.
Forsythe, who has billed himself on his Web site as a "world renowned medical oncologist and homeopathic physician," is the owner of Century Wellness Clinic in Reno.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.