Pubdate: Tue, 30 Mar 2004
Source: St. Petersburg Times (FL)
Copyright: 2004 St. Petersburg Times
Author: Richard Raeke, Times Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)


The Pain Relief Network Is Encouraging A Letter-Writing Campaign On Richard 
Paey's Behalf

The case of Richard Paey has gained the interest of the Pain Relief 
Network, a New York City-based group that serves as an advocate for pain 
patients and their doctors. The group is trying to raise awareness and 
political momentum about Paey's case in hopes that his March 5 conviction 
on 15 counts of drug trafficking, obtaining a controlled substance by fraud 
and possession of controlled substances will be thrown out.

Paey, 45, of Hudson, had written fraudulent prescriptions for the 
painkillers Percocet and Lortab. He has been using a wheelchair and in 
chronic pain since the mid 1980s, when he was injured in a car accident. 
Paey subsequently endured a botched back surgery and also suffers from 
multiple sclerosis.

Siobhan Reynolds, executive director of the Pain Relief Network, said 
Paey's case is "a perfect example of just how badly out of focus the system 
has become."

Because he obtained more than 28 grams of the painkillers, he became 
eligible for a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison for each 
count of trafficking. His sentencing is set for April 16. After Paey was 
first arrested in March 1997, prosecutors offered him house arrest and 
probation. He turned down the offer. Paey's first trial resulted in a 
mistrial, but he was convicted later. That conviction was thrown out due to 
improper statements by attorneys during the trial. He was then offered a 
five-year sentence, which he turned down.

That does not faze Reynolds.

"I'm so proud of Richard for standing up to it," she said. "He refused to 
accede to a criminalized rendering of his serious efforts to protect his 
own life."

The jury found that Paey forged the prescriptions of Dr. Steven Nurkiewicz, 
his doctor in New Jersey. Because Paey could not find a doctor to treat 
him, Nurkiewicz continued to write prescriptions and treat Paey after he 
moved to Florida in 1994.

The Pain Relief Network has asked its members to write Gov. Jeb Bush, State 
Attorney Bernie McCabe and state Sen. Mike Fasano on Paey's behalf.

"We at Pain Relief Network stand with Richard and all the patients who are 
criminalized by our government's irresponsible and cruel focus on 
legitimate medicine as a source for drug war prosecutions," reads a letter 
to the members.
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