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Scales of justice

A former Billings neurosurgeon is expected to plead guilty to a charge that he hid a bank account during bankruptcy proceedings.

Under a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Billings on Tuesday, John Henry Schneider has agreed to plead guilty to a single count of concealing bankruptcy assets, after he hid a bank account containing $309,686 from the U.S. trustee in the case.

Federal prosecutors will then recommend dismissing the remaining four counts at sentencing. Those are two counts of making a false statement under oath in relation to a bankruptcy proceeding, and one count each of concealing bankruptcy assets and fraudulently transferring bankruptcy assets.

The remaining charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Prosecutors will argue for a penalty on the lower end of the guideline range, the plea deal says. No specific recommendations were listed.

Schneider filed for bankruptcy in December 2014. A bankruptcy settlement agreement approved in June 2016 ordered Schneider to provide the estate $2.3 million for distribution to creditors, who had filed nearly $12 million in claims.

A year later, Schneider was indicted on the fraud charges after prosecutors say he illegally transferred $539,736.22 to another individual and hid a Harley Davidson motorcycle valued at $15,495.

Prosecutors agree not to oppose the doctor’s release pending sentencing if he continues to abide by release conditions.

In 2012, Schneider, who also practiced in Wyoming, settled a defamation lawsuit filed by another doctor, Dr. Jimmie Biles, of Cody. Biles sued Schneider over an anonymous flier disparaging his medical practice that was sent to nearly 15,000 homes in northwestern Wyoming in 2010. Biles claimed Schneider was behind the mailings; Schneider denied it.

And in March 2014, the Wyoming Board of Medicine revoked Schneider’s medical license after he operated on a Billings man, Russell Monaco, who died of an overdose of painkillers the day after his release from a Cody hospital. The board also fined Schneider $25,000 and ordered him to pay more than $124,000 to cover the cost of proceedings against him.

Until late last year, Schneider was working at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City, Iowa, despite disclosing on his application that he’d had medical malpractice problems in the past.

USA Today reported on Schneider’s professional history and the history of others at the facility, including some with felony convictions.

Facing termination, he resigned Nov. 29, 2017.

Schneider’s change of plea hearing is set for April 18.

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Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.