Four U.S. lawmakers are calling on Attorney General William Barr to block the early release of a former Missouri pharmacist who pleaded guilty in a scheme to dilute tens of thousands of prescriptions for seriously ill patients to boost profits.

KANSAS CITY — Four U.S. lawmakers are calling on Attorney General William Barr to block the early release of a former Missouri pharmacist who pleaded guilty in a scheme to dilute tens of thousands of prescriptions for seriously ill patients to boost profits.

U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, along with U.S. Reps Emanuel Cleaver and Sam Graves, said in a letter Thursday that they "strongly disagree" with freeing Robert Courtney seven years early because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Courtney's crimes are heinous," they wrote. "He acted without consideration for the theft of his victims' health and quality of life, and his actions can be described as no less than purposefully evil."

Courtney, a 67-year-old former pharmacist in Kansas City whose own health is now failing, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in December 2002 and projected to be released in May 2027. 

The Bureau of Prisons said it doesn't discuss release plans for specific inmates. But Michael Ketchmark, an attorney whose office was involved in more than 275 wrongful death lawsuits against Courtney, told The Kansas City Star that he was informed that Courtney could be released as early as this week to a halfway house and then to home confinement.

On Thursday, Courtney was at the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood in Colorado.