Source AP ©

Disabled former attorney released from jail

A disabled former attorney who got 25 years on drug trafficking charges was granted a full pardon and freed.

Richard Paey, 48, had served nearly four years after prosecutors convinced a jury that he had forged so many prescriptions and purchased so many pain pills that he must have been selling them, even though there was no other evidence supporting that claim.

His supporters have argued that he never distributed the drugs and that they were needed because he was in constant pain since a 1985 car accident. He also suffers from multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair.

"We aim to right a wrong and to exercise compassion," said Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who moved for the pardon after the board heard emotional testimony from Paey's wife, two daughters, a son and neighbor.

"He's not a drug trafficker," Linda Paey told the board. "He's just a patient who needed pain medication."

The board - Crist, State Attorney Bill McCollum, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson - voted unanimously to approve Paey's release, overriding the recommendation of the parole commission that his application be denied.

Paey's attorney, John Flannery, said the case illustrates flaws in the law and how people who are dependent on strong pain medication can get tangled up in the government's war on drugs.

Department of Corrections officials were scrambling to complete the paperwork to have him freed from prison.

Paey's wife said that the family was "scared to death" after the parole commission recommended that he remain in prison. She said the commission did not understand that sometimes a person can be in such pain that they need more narcotics that usual.

"And they need to (understand) because all these war veterans are coming back" she said.