LaSalle County Physician Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison for Illegally Dispensing Prescription Opioids
CHICAGO — A LaSalle County physician was sentenced today to 12 years in federal prison for illegally dispensing prescription medications, including opioids, in exchange for cash or sex.
CONSTANTINO PERALES, M.D., illegally prescribed Oxycodone and Xanax to a patient, ANDREW STRANDELL, knowing that Strandell would sell the pills on the black market and then kick back some of the profits to Dr. Perales. Dr. Perales also admitted in a plea agreement that from 2011 to 2013 he illegally dispensed opioids and other controlled substances to three opioid-dependent patients in exchange for sex. Dr. Perales required the individuals to have sex with him in order to continue receiving the medications, the plea agreement states. Dr. Perales knew the patients were addicted to the pills, yet he dispensed them without performing a medical examination or ordering any diagnostic tests to manage their conditions, the plea agreement states.
Perales, 67, of Peru, Ill., pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with the intent to distribute. U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve imposed the 12-year sentence in federal court in Chicago.
The sentencing was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Brian McKnight, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Substantial assistance was provided by the Peru, Ill., Police Department, and the LaSalle County State’s Attorney’s Office.
“Few cases provide such a troubling example of a brazen and pathological abuse of power, influence, and trust in order to manipulate the pain and suffering of others to one’s personal advantage,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine A. Sawyer and Kathryn E. Malizia argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “The evidence in this case demonstrates that Constantino Perales is a predator who abused his power and cloaked himself in the authority conferred by his white coat to manipulate vulnerable patients for his own gratification and profit.”
“This case exposes a doctor behaving in direct contradiction to his Hippocratic Oath, placing his greed and personal desires above the well-being of his patients," said FBI SAC Sallet. "This sentence sends a clear message that such behavior is unacceptable and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I commend the efforts of our state, local, and federal partners in bringing both of these individuals to justice.”
“This announcement sends a clear message that medical professionals who exploit their power, prey on the vulnerable, and violate controlled substance laws will be investigated and held accountable to the fullest extent,” said DEA SAC McKnight. “It also highlights the significance of federal law enforcement and prosecutors working together.”
Dr. Perales’ Illinois medical license was suspended and he surrendered his DEA Registration Certificate after law enforcement executed a search warrant at his office in Peru, Ill., in August 2013.
Strandell, of Sandwich, Ill., pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charge as Perales. Judge St. Eve in August sentenced Strandell to 30 months in prison.