BY DEBBIE WACHTER MORRIS DMORRIS@NCNEWSONLINE.COM





A chiropractor convicted in an illegal OxyContin prescription-writing conspiracy wants to be released from prison until his appeal is heard. But a Lawrence County common pleas judge ruled Wednesday that Dr. Thomas Wilkins will not be allowed out on bond while a higher court decides his fate. Attorney Carmen Lamancusa represented Wilkins at a hearing Tuesday, asking Judge J. Craig Cox to consider setting a bond so Wilkins could post bail and spend time with his children until the Pennsylvania Superior Court rules on his case. Wilkins, 44, of 511 Mount Jackson Road, is in the State Correctional Institution in Frackville, a maximum security prison for men in Schuylkill County. He is one of three doctors accused of illegally prescribing massive quantities of addictive narcotics to patients who went to their Union Township office complex for treatment. Wilkins and Dr. Philip G. Wagman, 48, of 1712 Gretchen Road, a pain doctor, were convicted by jury May 9 on 19 counts of violating the state drug act and one count of conspiracy to violate the state drug act. A third person, 63-year-old William Mangino, also a pain doctor, formerly of Philadelphia, faces similar felony charges and expects to stand trial in the first half of this year. He is free on bond. All three men were arrested by state police in September 2004, and their clinic was closed. Wilkins was sentenced in July to 10 to 30 years in prison and fines of $846,000 plus $17,604 in prosecution costs. Wagman faces 19 to 45 years in prison, in addition to $835,000 in fines and $17,604 in court costs. He is lodged in the Rockview State Correctional Institution in Centre County. On Dec. 13, Lamancusa filed a notice of appeal to Wilkins' guilty verdict before the state superior court. He later filed a motion in common pleas court, asking that a bond be set for Wilkins so he could be released until the higher court rules in the case. Lamancusa argued before Cox Tuesday that Wilkins wants to spend time with his three children. "It has been troublesome for the children to go to Frackville," Lamancusa, said, noting the trip requires four to five hours of driving time each way. "Yes, he was convicted," Lamancusa said, "but would he flee? He has nowhere to go and no assets." He asked Cox to set a reasonable bond, adding Wilkins' friends are willing to help him post the bail money. Jeffrey Baxter of the state attorney general's office is prosecuting the case against the three doctors, but was unable to appear in court Tuesday. Assistant District Attorney Diane Shaffer, representing the prosecution, told the judge that Baxter opposes any bond for Wilkins. She countered that because he already is serving his sentence, bail would disrupt programs or treatments he may be receiving. In his opinion issued Wednesday, Cox found that Wilkins was a danger to Lawrence County and surrounding counties because of his participation for an extended time in the improper prescribing of narcotics. The judge reasoned that if Wilkins were granted a bond, he might decide to flee because he cannot participate in his chiropractic profession and because of his lengthy prison sentence.

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