Hit & Run

25 Years for Being 'Stubborn'


Last week Richard Paey, a Florida man who suffers from terrible back pain as a result of a car accident and unsuccessful surgery, received a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence for drug trafficking. After moving from New Jersey to Florida 10 years ago, Paey could not find a local doctor willing to prescribe the large amounts of opioids he needed to relieve his pain, so he started filling out blank prescription forms he obtained from his New Jersey doctor. Although these prescriptions led to drug trafficking charges, there is no evidence that Paey used the drugs for anything other than his own pain relief.

"I kept waiting to hear that he was selling them somehow," one juror who regrets voting to convict told the St. Petersburg Times. "If he was selling them, that's one thing. But he was eating them." The fact that prosecutors at one point offered a Paey a plea agreement involving house arrest and probation (a far cry from 25 years in prison) suggests they knew he was not a drug trafficker.

An editorial in the St. Petersburg Times that condemned the government's unjust treatment of Paey also faulted him for "stubbornly" refusing the proposed plea agreement. The paper's story about Paey's sentence likewise described him as "stubborn." But Paey, who uses a wheelchair to get around and is receiving morphine through a pump while in jail, refuses to identify himself as a criminal merely for doing what he had to do to obtain the medication he needed. "I hope never to hear the word 'stubborn' used to describe Richard Paey again," says Siobhan Reynolds of the Pain Relief Network. "He is a principled and courageous man who has sacrificed himself to demonstrate the hidden and denied reality facing patients in pain."

NEXT: Most Interesting Character I Ever Met

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  1. zorel,

    Perhaps the jurors were prohibited from hearing what you and I would consider "pertinent" evidence. Happens all the time. Juries often complain after the fact that they didn't hear "the whole story." I suspect that his sole use of the ill-gotten drugs was somehow obfuscated within the proceedings.

  2. "Stubborn" is a word best suited to describe the compassion of our drug warriors.

  3. Sad, very sad.

  4. Prohibition top to bottom beginning to end is a war on people in pain.

    Let us be perfectly clear. Pain relievers have minimal effect on people not in pain.

    Chronic drug use is caused by chronic pain.

  5. "Pain relievers have minimal effect on people not in pain."


    again, i repeat:


  6. I'm glad there's someone around to protect me from malicious people in wheelchairs trying to mind their own business. To protect and serve, right?

  7. How do these prosecutors sleep at night? Don't they have a conscience?

  8. No surprise here; I no longer expect our government to be moral.

  9. Oh, for more people to hear about jury nullification.

  10. This is your brain warring against drugs...

  11. The bastards! At every level, the politicians, public servants, and the police have gotten used to the power given to them by the war on drugs. And people are happy being protected by their govt. from these terrible drugs - morons.

    "...one juror who regrets voting to convict ..."

    a fat lot of good did his/her 'regrets' do! How the hell can a literate jury convict for "drug trafficking" when the guy didn't sell any?

  12. No, they have ambition.

  13. And a paycheck...

  14. I have been following the Paey case since the 2nd trial in mid-2002, and sat through all 3 days of the 3rd trial last month. An appeal will be filed. Meanwhile we must look beyond Richard Paey to the coming push to further restrict pain meds by establishing a national prescription database. KY has one now and the FL legislature is considering one this session. These must be stopped.

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