Friday, December 08, 2006

Fla. Court Rejects Disabled Man's Appeal

Friday December 8, 2006 12:01 AM


Associated Press Writer

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A disabled man who said he needed vast amounts of prescription drugs to control pain is a drug trafficker in the eyes of the law and has to serve at least 25 years in prison, an appeals court has ruled.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal expressed sympathy for Richard Paey, whose story was featured on the ``60 Minutes'' TV program and in other national media earlier this year. His argument that he doesn't deserve the long sentence ``does not fall on deaf ears, but it falls on the wrong ears,'' court said.

In its 2-1 opinion handed down Wednesday, the court suggested that Paey ask Gov. Jeb Bush to commute it.

Paey's attorney, John Flannery, said Thursday he immediately wrote to Bush's office. Bush spokesman Anthony DeLuise said the office has received more than 100 letters on Paey's behalf but hadn't yet received any clemency request.

Paey, 48, severely injured his back in a 1985 car accident, has multiple sclerosis, and uses a wheelchair. The father of three was sentenced in 2004 on drug trafficking and other charges to a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years.

Prosecutors said he was forging prescriptions and getting hundreds of pills that he had to be selling them, even though they had no evidence to support their claims. At one point, they said he got 800 Oxycodone pills in a month-and-a-half time.

In a dissenting opinion, Associate Judge James H. Seals said took issue with Paey's prosecution, saying ``the State decided to bring out the artillery designed to bring down the drug cartels.''

State Attorney Bernie McCabe said Thursday that he made multiple plea offers to Paey that didn't involve him going to prison. Paey's wife has said he had rejected offers because he didn't want to be branded a drug trafficker.