Appellate court upholds conviction, sentencing of Perry physician

bpurser@macon.comFebruary 22, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- A panel of judges of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction and sentence of Perry physician Spurgeon Green Jr., who was implicated in the death of one of his patients.

In November 2008, a jury convicted Green of wrongfully prescribing medications that led to the serious bodily injury of a patient who died under his care.

Green, 74, also was convicted of more than 30 counts of post-dating prescriptions and a dozen other counts of wrongfully prescribing medications. During the trial, federal prosecutors described his Perry practice as a “pill mill.”

Part of the appeal questioned the reasonableness of the sentence, which in effect became a life sentence for Green because of his age.

The appellate court found Thursday that the sentence imposed was reasonable, noting Green could have been sentenced to even a longer term under federal sentencing guidelines.

“The district court did not abuse its discretion when it sentenced Green to 30 years of imprisonment,” the ruling stated.

Laura D. Hogue, who represented Green on appeal, stated in an e-mail, “We are disappointed but still see some avenues left to challenge Dr. Green’s conviction and sentence. We will likely prepare a motion for en banc review before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and, if that is unsuccessful, will certainly petition for certiorari before the United States Supreme Court.”

Hogue explained in the e-mail that an en banc review is asking the entire panel -- not just the three judges who issued the opinion -- to consider the issue.

A petition for certiorari asks the U.S. Supreme Court to consider an issue of constitutional significance or to resolve a split in the circuits on an issue, Hogue continued. A petition to the High Court cannot be made until all of the 11th Circuit challenges are resolved, she wrote.

Also, the appellate court upheld the convictions of former pharmacist Jack Joseph, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for conspiring to illegally distribute drugs with Green, and of Dorothy Mack, Green’s physician’s assistant. Mack was sentenced to 41 months, or more than 3½ years, in prison for giving out multiple prescriptions pre-signed by the doctor.

Franklin J. Hogue, who represented Mack, said he was disappointed in the ruling.

“I believed in Dorothy’s innocence and still do,” Hogue stated in an e-mail. “This weekend I will study the 52-page opinion to determine whether a motion for reconsideration by the entire panel of appellate judges ... would be worth pursuing.”

Laura Cooper, an Oregon attorney who represented Joseph on appeal, declined comment by telephone.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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