Portland foot doctor pleads guilty to writing oxycodone prescriptions in exchange for cash and cocaine

Posted Dec. 04, 2012, at 6:17 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — An emotional Dr. John B. Perry pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to writing prescriptions for oxycodone for drug traffickers in exchange for cash and cocaine.

Perry, 51, told U.S. District Court Judge George Z. Singal that he has faced his addictions and other mental illnesses with the help of a psychiatrist and is trying to rebuild relationships with family members.

In exchange for changing his plea to guilty on nine counts — including conspiracy to distribute drugs, health care fraud and illegal distribution of oxycodone — the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuting the case is recommending a sentence of 121 months in prison, or just more than 10 years. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is also offering to file a motion to dismiss 36 other counts associated with the case upon Perry’s sentencing, which expected to take place in the coming months.

For each of eight of the counts, Perry faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million, and for one of the counts — of Medicare and MaineCare fraud — he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Singal told Perry the court is not obligated to accept the prosecution’s recommended sentence, and that Perry cannot withdraw his guilty pleas even if the judge decides on a sentence greater than 121 months in prison. Perry can, however, appeal the sentencing if the judge chooses a greater sentence than the prosecution’s recommendation, Singal said.

Prosecutors argue that from June of 2009 through October of 2010, Perry, who was at the time proprietor of Atlantic Foot & Ankle P.A. in Portland, wrote numerous prescriptions for oxycodone pills for a group of drug traffickers from Connecticut. He wrote the prescriptions in the names of some of the traffickers, and in the names of conspirators in Maine recruited by the traffickers to go to local pharmacies and have the prescriptions filled.

The traffickers paid Perry for the prescriptions with cash and cocaine, according to court documents. At least three others have been convicted of crimes in relation to the case: Tammy Sargent, 37, of South Portland was sentenced to five years of probation for conspiracy to obtain drugs by deception and health care fraud; Dariem Vanalstyne, 25, of New London, Conn., was sentenced to a year and three months in prison for four counts of acquiring drugs by deception; and Manford Rideout, 43, of Windham, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for conspiracy to acquire drugs by deception.

On Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland, psychiatrist Cecily Rich told Singal she first began working with Perry eight months ago, when he was ordered to seek psychiatric services after violating the conditions of his release by using alcohol. Perry has been free on $100,000 secured bail under house arrest since being charged in 2010.

“He’s had a considerable turnaround in his ability to handle stress, his actions, low self esteem and depression,” Rich told Singal on Tuesday, describing Perry’s “honest” self evaluation in recent months “really uncommon” for a federal prisoner.

Perry himself became emotional when addressing Singal.

“The hardest part is that I don’t have any control over [my addictions],” he said.

Perry’s attorney, Leonard Sharon of Auburn, read a letter from Perry’s ex-wife asking the court to allow him to remain free until sentencing, so that he can help take care of his four children while she undergoes and recovers from ankle surgery.

Sharon also told Singal that Perry’s family was notified last week that the bank is foreclosing on their home, and told the judge that the additional time out of prison would allow Perry to help his family make new financial or living arrangements.

But Singal was unmoved by the pleas, saying financial troubles and child care gaps are “not extraordinary” repercussions of incarceration, and ordered Perry detained. Perry was then handcuffed and led from the courtroom by guards. As he was being led away, he told a group of family members on hand, “I love you.”

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