Posted at: 09/19/2013 2:31 PM
| Updated at: 09/19/2013 8:17 PM
By: Bill Lambdin
File / WNYT
ALBANY - The retired pharmacist convicted of spreading mercury to contaminate Albany Medical Center was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Thursday.
Martin Kimber had a history of drug use and alcoholism. He was a tax protestor, had accumulated more than 20 weapons in his home and acquired mercury from a variety of sources which he tried to use as a weapon against unsuspecting individuals at Albany Med.
There's good quality security footage showing Martin Kimber walking around Albany Medical Center. He pleaded guilty to placing the toxic substance, mercury, at the triage window of the emergency room, in an elevator, even at the salad bar and around other food at the cafeteria.
“There were people who were in respiratory distress with chest pains and other really emergency kinds of ailments going on and they were not in a position where they could simply pick up and go somewhere else in response to a crime being committed,” said U.S. District Attorney Craig Benedict.
In court Thursday where media recordings are not allowed, Kimber's attorney described the four separate trips to Albany Med spreading mercury as an absurd, absolutely ludicrous attempt to strike back over a medical bill Kimber did not want to pay.
During a brief statement, Kimber did not apologize. The trained pharmacist claimed little knowledge of mercury and its effects. He said he was intoxicated and most of what he did was out of frustration.
The prosecution says Kimber knew exactly what he was doing. “It not only evaporates at room temperature but when he placed it inside a toaster, under heated food, he was taking actions the United States argued that would cause it to evaporate as quickly as possible where it is extraordinarily dangerous,” said Benedict.
Federal courts have sentencing guidelines which judges almost always follow. But there is latitude within the guidelines to calculate the sentence. Judge Kahn calculated in a way that penalized Kimber severely he received 14 years in prison, $200,000 in restitution to Albany Med for its response costs and the forfeiture of his car and house.