Former Synthes executive Richard Bohner was sentenced to eight months in prison Tuesday for his role in a scheme to illegally promote and test bone cements used by doctors in back surgeries, three of which ended with patients dying on the operating table.

Bohner, 56, of Malvern was led away in handcuffs after the sentence was imposed by District Court Judge Legrome D. Davis at the federal courthouse in Philadelphia.

"The government is pleased with the sentence," said lead prosecutor Mary Crawley of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. "The court recognized the severity of the harm done in this case, especially with this defendant, who was involved in regulatory affairs."

Bohner's attorney, Brent Gurney, declined comment.

Three co-defendants, all former executives of the medical-device manufacturer, were sentenced to prison on Nov. 21, also by Davis. The four pleaded guilty together to a misdemeanor count.

Michael Huggins, 54, of West Chester, the former president of Synthes North America, was sentenced to nine months in prison. Thomas Higgins, 55, of Berwyn, former leader of Synthes' spine division, got the same sentence. John Walsh, 48, of Coatesville, who was involved in  regulatory affairs, got five months. Walsh reported to Bohner.

Medical-device and pharmaceutical companies have paid billions of dollars to settle criminal charges over the years, but rarely do their executives go to jail. This time was different because prosecutors showed, with the help of thousands of pages of internal Synthes documents, that executives were actively involved in the illegal promotion and clinical testing of its Norian bone cements.