Senior Judge John L. Braxton did allow Dr. Donald Dinello Jr. to remain free on $50,000 bail pending a possible appeal to the state Superior Court, however.
Braxton returned to a Dauphin County courtroom to hear — and ultimately reject — a petition that defense attorney Royce Morris filed to modify the sentence imposed on Dinello in July.
Under a deal with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Dinello, 46, pleaded guilty to charges that he stole from his partner in Hershey Oral Surgery Associates and improperly wrote prescriptions for the painkiller Oxycodon for an employee and her husband. He pleaded to a charge of refusing to keep required records of drugs he prescribed in connection with the prescription fraud allegation.
Dinello’s pleas also resulted in a 2-year suspension of his state dental license.
The tension was palpable as Morris made his sentence modification request during Wednesday’s hearing. Among other arguments, he contended that Dinello “has maintained a remorseful attitude” about his crimes.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick Leonard urged Braxton not to budge from the original sentence. He noted that the charges against Dinello carry a maximum possible penalty of 8 1/2 years in prison.
The message sent in the case is important, Leonard said, because “there are others in the dental community … who I’m sure have a keen eye on what happens here with Dr. Dinello.”
Braxton said he still considers his initial sentence “fair and appropriate.” Dinello deserves nothing that would hint at special treatment and must spend time behind bars for betraying the trust the community placed in him as a healer, the judge said.
“He’s a convicted felon, and he has to pay the consequences,” Braxton said.
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