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Federal judge orders investigation to learn if inmate is getting AIDS drugs

TAMPA — A federal judge has ordered the Bureau of Prisons to investigate whether an inmate jailed since mid May in Pinellas and Citrus counties is getting his AIDS medication.

Kelby McCrillis, 42, was awaiting placement in federal prison on a probation violation in July when he filed his own motion asking for early release, alleging drugs he requires daily have been withheld.

U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. ordered the investigation after a hearing Tuesday. He also directed Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hoffer, as a representative of the government, to follow up on McCrillis' care.

"I do not want his AIDS medication to be interrupted," Moody said.

McCrillis started probation in 2009 after a four-year prison sentence for possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it. When he violated terms of his release for a second time, Moody sentenced him to serve eight months.

McCrillis spent seven weeks in the Pinellas County Jail and three weeks in the Citrus County Detention Center. In late July, he had finally landed in a federal facility in Tallahassee and had begun receiving medicine, but he was returned to Pinellas for a hearing on his motion.

He might have been in court Tuesday, but his appearance had to be delayed because he was exposed to chicken pox in the Pinellas jail and his pod is under quarantine, the judge learned.

Attorney Jo Ann Palchak, who represents McCrillis, couldn't see him Monday because of his quarantine and therefore couldn't assure the court that he has access to AIDS drugs.

The judge pointed out the irony, noting, "It sounds like by scheduling this hearing, I've interfered with his medication."

Palchak assured Moody that McCrillis is grateful for the judge's interest.

Contact Patty Ryan at pryan@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3382.

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