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How Dan Schneider Of ‘The Pharmacist’ Moved Beyond Reputation As A 'Half-Crazy, Grieving Father'
Small town Louisiana pharmacist-turned-amateur detective Dan Schneider told Oxygen.com he's appreciated now, but that wasn't always the case.
Netflix’s “The Pharmacist” tells the tale of small-town pharmacist Dan Schneider, who successfully conducted two amateur investigations - first into his son Danny's drug-related murder in 1999 and then into a local pill mill doctor, Jacqueline Cleggett, and the opioid crisis in general. His ruthless dedication helped lead to successful prosecutions in both cases.
Schneider told Oxygen.com that the docu-series has been received positively, but it hasn’t always been easy to get others to hear him out.
“I used to beat doors down trying to get people to listen,” he said.
As the docu-series shows, people were often annoyed by his relentless drive to find justice and he, in turn, often grew frustrated.
In some of his recorded audio clips featured in the docu-series, both his daughter Kristi and his wife Annie chastised him at times for being obsessive.
“He sounded crazy,” Kristi said in the series, recalling how her dad’s suspicions that he was being tailed by someone from Cleggett’s operation. “He sounded like a crazy person.”
At the pharmacy where he worked, his boss frequently got irritated with him due to his tendency to nag customers over their opioid prescriptions. His boss felt like he was overreacting.
And then, there were all the calls and inquiries to the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). He would even preemptively tell investigators he wasn’t crazy while incessantly updating them on his amateur research.
“I'm not a goofball, I’m not a nut,” he pleaded in one recorded call to the DEA as he attempted to get them to listen to him.
The DEA did not hide their annoyance at Schneider.
“I know Mr. Schneider means well but he had questions all the time,” Patricia Childress, a DEA diversion investigator, told producers of the docu-series. “‘Why aren’t you doing this? Why aren’t you doing that? Why aren’t you doing that?’ Sometimes you’d get on the phone with him and you’d be on the phone with him for an hour and you’d just kind of go, “Mr. Schneider, I have an appointment’ or you know, ‘I’ll see what I can find out.'”
While he helped track down his son’s killer, Jeffery Hall, within a year and a half of Danny’s murder, his fight against Cleggett too much longer. He began investigating her in 2001 and his relentless nature eventually paid off. After he got her to admit writing a potent painkiller prescription for a child, investigators had their smoking gun. While Cleggett did not take a plea deal until eight years later, Schneider’s research and testimony helped put her behind bars. She was one of the first pill mill doctors prosecuted in America and eventually even the DEA acknowledged Schneider’s efforts.
“As crazy and as out of control as this guy was, he got results,” DEA investigator Iris Myers noted in the docu-series.
Schneider’s credibility was further enhanced in 2017 after a reporter celebrated him in a Times-Picayune story.
“How a small town pharmacist caught his son's killer - and then took down the most notorious pill mill doctor in New Orleans history,” the story’s subheading read. That piece eventually inspired the Netflix series.
Then, after “The Pharmacist” began streaming, Schneider noticed a total shift in how he was perceived. Beating down doors became a thing of the past.
“In the past, I was portrayed as a half-crazy, grieving father,” he told Oxygen.com. “It’s a shame to say it but I was. But now, people want to talk to me. People want to hear what I have to say.”
Schneider told Oxygen.com he intends to do something with this newfound credibility. He said that while prescription opioid abuse appears to be on the decline, he fears heroin is making a resurgence, a potential unintended consequence on clamping down on prescriptions. He said while he doesn't have any other investigations on the horizon, he would like to do work with schools and law enforcement.
“Maybe more people will listen and maybe I can accomplish more,” he said. ”I am going to try to use this as a platform so I can spread more ideas about how to reduce the opioid crisis problem.”