Moments before he was sentenced for second-degree murder Tuesday, Dr. Harriston Bass delivered a sermon in court.
With a booming voice suited to the most seasoned preacher, Bass told a courtroom audience that he never broke any laws and didn't supply fatal prescription drugs to a woman who overdosed and died.
"Truth -- the spirit of truth -- will not shut up! It will not let up nor will it give up," he said.
But his sermon fell on deaf ears. District Judge Jackie Glass sentenced Bass to spend 25 years to life in prison for unlawfully providing a patient prescription medications. The patient, Gina Micali, 38, was found dead from an overdose of painkillers in 2005.
"You are worse than a common street dealer," Glass said. "It is disgusting and it is repugnant that you come in here today and say the words that came out of your mouth."
A jury in March convicted Bass of second-degree murder in connection with Micali's death. It also convicted Bass of more than 50 drug-related charges, including selling a controlled substance and possession for sale of a controlled substance.
Under Nevada law, if someone dies from drugs they receive illegally from a dealer, the seller can be charged with murder.
Authorities said this is probably the first time in Nevada's history that a doctor has been charged and convicted of murder for illegally dispensing for profit prescription medications to a patient who later overdosed and died.
Bass, 54, ran a mobile medical service called Docs 24-7 for years in Southern Nevada. He often made house calls to patients at their homes or in their hotel rooms, and authorities said he would sometimes sell hundreds of doses of drugs like Lortab. He used his PT Cruiser, which was outfitted with a portable refrigerator, as a mobile pharmacy.
Although Bass had a license to prescribe drugs, he didn't have a license to dispense and sell painkillers like Vicodin.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Conrad Hafen said Bass had no criminal history. But he said Bass, a doctor, should be held to a higher standard because he is responsible for caring for patients when they are at their most vulnerable.
"These people relied on the defendant. Gina Micali relied on this defendant. And what did he do? He preyed on her weakness," he said.
Micali, a Clark High School graduate, was an accomplished athlete who was an active snowboarder, jet skier and water boarder. She once made the cover of a watersports magazine and competed on Lake Havasu and elsewhere. She turned to prescription painkillers after she suffered several sports injuries, her family said.
She was found dead in her home in October 2005 from what the family says was an accidental overdose of hydrocodone, a pain reliever. Authorities linked the drugs found in Micali's home to Bass.
Throughout the trial, Bass' attorneys said he was a fine doctor who was looking out for his patients' best interests. Bass, who testified during the trial, said he believed he was allowed to dispense and sell prescription drugs.
On Tuesday, Bass invoked the "spirit of truth" during his sermonizing and maintained that he wasn't responsible for Micali's death.
"Lady Justice is frustrated and she will not go into balance until the truth is heard," he said.
Micali's mother, Pat Micali, said she was satisfied with Bass' sentence but was "appalled" by his statement to the court. Pat Micali is suing the drug company that supplied Bass with the medications.
"I think he's despicable," she said.
Contact reporter David Kihara at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039.