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Spared prison, 550-pound man sought freedom; judge weighs in

Steven Goodman, 70, arrives at federal court in West Palm Beach in 2012 for sentencing on charges he sold more than 1 million prescription meds to fake pain management clinics. RICHARD GRAULICH/ZUMAPRESS.COM

Steven Goodman, 70, arrives at federal court in West Palm Beach in 2012 for sentencing on charges he sold more than 1 million prescription meds to fake pain management clinics. RICHARD GRAULICH/ZUMAPRESS.COM

TREASURE ISLAND — A morbidly obese man whose poor health helped him avoid prison time had his request for a shortened sentence denied this month.

In 2012, a federal judge sentenced Steven Goodman, a 70-year-old former pharmacist who weighs 551 pounds, to four years of probation and 30 months of home confinement.

Based in West Palm Beach, Goodman was convicted of supplying more than 1 million Oxycodone and other high-powered pain killers to illegal clinics throughout South Florida, the Palm Beach Post reported.

Goodman weighed 525 pounds during the trial, and a judge decided against sending him to prison based on his poor physical health, his cooperation with investigators and his short expected life span. After the trial, he returned to his Treasure Island home to serve out the remainder of his sentence with a monitoring band.

But a motion filed July 10 sought to terminate the remaining seven months of his home confinement. Goodman's deteriorating health and fear of falling mean he spends most of his days in his bedroom, isolated, his attorney Edward Page wrote.

Page wrote that Goodman doesn't even take advantage of the weekly trips outside his Dolphin Drive home permitted by probation. He has only ventured outside for medical appointments and procedures, religious events and for his wedding ceremony.

Two recent hospitalizations and developing cardiovascular and kidney problems, among other conditions, have deteriorated his quality of life and lead his lawyer to believe he could die before the end of his confinement, Page wrote.

"Goodman would like to get his affairs in order, say his good-byes and, if able, to travel, visit his other home and relatives in Cincinnati, Ohio before he dies," Page wrote.

But a judge rejected his plea.

"But for [Goodman's] obesity, he would have been given a prison sentence," Judge Kenneth A. Marra wrote in a judgment filed Monday. "[He] was spared a prison sentence, not as a favor to him, but in order to spare the Bureau of Prisons the burden of having to care for him for the period of time he should have been incarcerated."

Marra went on to write that if his health truly confined him to his home, the continuation of his punishment would not harm him. If his physical condition is truly poor, Marra continued, he will likely be unable to travel to Ohio, and receiving the benefits of such a trip "would not be justified," Marra wrote.

Contact Claire Wiseman at cwiseman@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman.

Spared prison, 550-pound man sought freedom; judge weighs in 07/25/14 [Last modified: Friday, July 25, 2014 10:46am]
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