I surrendered to federal custody on November 15, 2010. As you might imagine, looking forward to serving a certain period of incarceration is a miserable thing to have hanging over your head. And as 2010 was coming to an end I was increasingly anxious to have my term of imprisonment underway--certainly I didn't envision a happy and joyous holiday. My daughter looked about a year-and-a-half pregnant although not due until mid-January. I wanted to get my prison sentence done, and get home to my expanding family. On December 23 my daughter gave birth to the Bad Lawyer's first grandson! He's a wonderful little Bad Baby Boy!
At the link you can read John Diedrich's Journal-Sentinel article on Roger's conviction. Go ahead. It's an accurate summary of why Roger got on the bus with me to Morgantown. Roger's doing time for dispensing a "powerful" painkiller to a patient. Get this, what's even more astonishing, the incredible damning evidence against Roger included photographs of some 14,000 empty ampules of fentanyl that the DEA found around Roger's clinic, car and residence. According to the J-SOnline article, Roger was "convicted on 16 counts of dispensing powerful painkillers without a legitimate medical purpose [was] sentenced to four years in federal prison. [Roger Pellman, M.D.] ran the Center for Medical Imaging and Vein and Laser Skin Care Clinics in Germantown, was convicted by a jury of illegally dispensing fentanyl and morphine to a nurse who worked for his clinics in 2009."
What a dirtbag, right?
Now remember, Roger was convicted of "dispensing powerful painkillers without a legitimate medical purpose." How did the government obtain this conviction? I mean how did the government prove "without a legitimate medical purpose?" Surely, the Milwaukee jury must have heard from physicians, medical professors, learned experts on pharmacology? Yes?
The government presented no medical experts, no physicians, no professors, no one qualified or competent to speak to the medical standard of "legitimate medical purpose." So how did this case get to a jury and more importantly, what "evidence" did the jury base their decision on? The DEA's photographs of empty ampules of the low dose fentanyl (--imagine if you will lots of little St. Joseph Aspirin bottles) which were artfully posed by DEA agents were submitted at trial and cited by the government in the government's appellate brief. That's it.
Here's the thing, I can only bring my Bad Lawyer goggles to this travesty of justice. As followers of Bad Lawyer know, I practiced civil trial law for 28 years both as a plaintiff and a defense lawyer. A case like the government's vis-a-vis Roger Pellmann if it had been a medical malpractice case, better yet, a mere whiplash car accident claim--it would not have made it to a jury upon a motion to dismiss. There was an utter failure of the burden of proof. And yet a Milwaukee federal Judge and Jury was baffled by bullshit. The government now contends in their appellate Reply brief that despite an absence of competent and credible medical testimony the Pellmann jury had sufficient lay knowledge to determine whether a "legitimate medical purpose" existed for the dispensing of fentanyl for a patient suffering from Trigeminal Neuralgia. Right.
So what did all this cost Roger Pellman, his employees, and his patients? Well it cost Pellmann his freedom, reputation, license, businesses, his family, all of his property, homes, cars, etcetera. His employees at two separate clinics lost their jobs, and the local government lost the taxes and economic investment in their community. Roger's children and ex-wife lost child support. Why?
Roger Pellmann is innocent. Seriously, I didn't meet many truly innocent folks at Morgantown, including yours truly, but Pellmann is innocent. There are a lot of guys at Morgantown and I'm sure, elsewhere, throughout federal and state custody who are badly served by incarceration and particularly by the long and costly warehousing of former professionals and others. This is something I will want to go on about at some length, as with other subjects. But the truly innocent are rare. Roger Pellmann is truly innocent and wrongly convicted.
I left Morgantown last Wednesday, but Roger's still there.