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Man loses his case but wins sympathy

He's been on 60 Minutes. A New York Times columnist has championed his cause. Even those who prosecuted and convicted Richard Paey sympathize with the wheelchair-bound man who is serving 25 years for drug trafficking - for obtaining drugs he needs for his debilitating pain.

Count among those sympathizers the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

The problem, a majority of the court ruled Wednesday, is they can't help Paey.

They upheld his conviction and sentence by a 2-1 vote, but passed on this advice: Get the governor to commute the sentence.

"Mr. Paey's argument about his sentence does not fall on deaf ears," Judge Douglas Wallace wrote, "but it falls on the wrong ears."

The Hudson man was arrested by Pasco County and federal Drug Enforcement Administration officers in 1997 after buying more than 1,200 painkillers with fake prescriptions.

The 48-year-old has multiple sclerosis and chronic pain since a 1985 car accident and failed surgeries.

A version of this report appeared in some regional editions of the Times.

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