On Monday, when former Bell County dentist Dr. Craig Ralston was sentenced to five years in prison for Medicaid fraud and three counts of drug trafficking (not to mention the jury tampering charge which was dismissed in the plea agreement), it seemed there might actually be some justice for the prescription drug problem.
But that justice will probably only last for 30 days.
The Kentucky Attorney General’s office, who prosecuted the case, made it clear during the sentencing hearing that they would not object to Ralston filing for shock probation after 30 days in jail on his first motion.
And surprisingly, Circuit Court Judge Robert Costanzo had no words for Ralston. In fact, when Attorney General special prosecutor Chris Melton began to detail the offenses that Ralston had pleaded guilty to — and stated that Ralston got his patients hooked on hydrocodone — Costanzo asked him to stop, saying they shouldn’t get into that.
What does it say to the public when the Attorney General’s office won’t fight shock probation for a licensed drug dealer?
It says whatever they want it to say. After the sentencing, the Attorney General’s office sent out a press release trumpeting the five year sentence, leaving out the part about shock probation.
That story was picked up by the Associated Press and passed on to newspapers throughout the state. The message said that the Attorney General’s office is doing its job, fighting the drug problem in eastern Kentucky.
So after all the trouble our justice system went to in bringing Ralston down — even after Ralston allegedly tampered with the jury during his Medicaid/Drug Trafficking trial, causing a mistrial — what was the point in letting him get off so easily on shock probation?
Whatever the reason, the message sent to other licensed dealers in southeastern Kentucky was clear.