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Orthopod Accused of Supplying Painkillers to His Mistress

Kenneth Cherry, MD, allegedly wrote 63 prescriptions for opioids over 18 months.

Published: July 6, 2017

DRUG PROBLEM Dr. Cherry thought he was doing a good deed for his part-time girlfriend.

By the time orthopedic surgeon Kenneth Cherry, MD, realized he could no longer keep living a double life, narcotics agents were planning a visit to his office at University of Orthopedics (UOC) in State College, Pa., to find out why scores of undocumented prescriptions for opioid painkillers kept ending up in the hands of his mistress.

Dr. Cherry, 59, now stands accused of writing 63 scripts for Mary Amendola — his 37-year-old paramour — from November 2014 to May 2016 for oxycodone, fentanyl, Percocet, Adderall, Xanax and Ativan. He faces felony charges of prescribing a controlled substance by a practitioner not in good faith within the scope of his practice, and misdemeanor charges of failing to keep records of the distribution of controlled substances. A preliminary court hearing is scheduled for July 19.

Dr. Cherry would often leave filled prescriptions in his unlocked car for Ms. Amendola to retrieve, according to court documents. He thought he was doing a "good deed" for Ms. Amendola, who had no insurance and, according to Dr. Cherry, was battling legitimate pain.

Dr. Cherry told Ms. Amendola "things were getting out of control" in September 2015 when he realized she was asking for too much medication. But he continued to refill the scripts, because he did not want to abandon his mistress, who he called "narcotics tolerant." Dr. Cherry said he was particularly concerned about writing prescriptions for Adderall, because it was out of his scope of practice.

Pharmacists at a CVS Pharmacy in State College, Pa., alerted authorities when Ms. Amendola received prescriptions written by Dr. Cherry for oxycodone 20 mg and 30 mg on May 17, 2016, just 6 days after she picked up a prescription he wrote for oxycodone 10 mg.

Ms. Amendola saw other physicians at UOC for treatment of back pain, but Dr. Cherry never cared for her as a legitimate patient. Another physician at UOC wrote the last documented prescription for Ms. Amendola in February 2014. Other physicians within the practice were unaware that Dr. Cherry was secretly supplying her with prescriptions painkillers, according to state investigators.

Dr. Cherry has been placed on an immediate leave of absence from UOC, says Bruce Davies, the practice's vice president of business development. "UOC is both heartbroken and disappointed by this news," he adds. "We take these allegations very seriously and have fully cooperated with law enforcement authorities. It should be noted that UOC is not involved in any manner regarding the charges filed against Dr. Cherry."

Daniel Cook

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