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Dr. Constantino Perales, whose Peru clinic was raided Aug. 26 by Peru police and federal agents, remains in custody on $1 million bail and with no timetable for appearing on federal charges, which still are pending. Meanwhile, ex-patients continue to search for new physicians and copies of confiscated medical records.
OTTAWA — Dr. Constantino Perales remains in La Salle County Jail and will appear next week for arraignment after a grand jury reviews his first two charges. La Salle County state’s attorney Brian Towne declined to comment on what information would be presented before the grand jury. He reaffirmed, however, that Perales’ criminal case remains in La Salle County and that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will not file federal charges in the near future. Perales, 62, of Peru remains held on $1 million bond following an Aug. 26 raid of his clinic on Seventh Street in Peru. He faces up to 7 years in prison if convicted of illicitly delivering a prescription painkiller and an anti-anxiety drug, but Towne said during Perales’ bond hearing those deliveries are “the tip of the iceberg” and additional charges are pending. Perales’ license also was suspended by a state agency that released documents showing sex-for-drug exchanges, though related charges are pending. Peru police continue to take information about the Perales case, but have backed away from an initial statement that a hotline would be established to facilitate inquiries and tips. “At this point we’ve determined that a hotline is not necessary,” Peru police chief Doug Bernabei said. “Initially, we were getting calls through our main number and that has been working out fine. Now, the calls are diminishing though we still will take any information.” Still uncertain is how many patients Perales was actively seeing at the time of his arrest. Authorities with knowledge of the case said Perales’ voluminous records included the charts of patients who are deceased or who sought out other physicians years ago, making it impossible to reliably ascertain what percentage of records belonged to active patients. Meanwhile, some of Perales’ patients reported they finally have found new attendant physicians after repeated inquiries and being bluntly turned away. “I did have several doctors point-blank say, ‘We will not see any of Perales’ patients,’” reported Pat Sessler of Mendota. None of the medical offices that demurred, however, provided any explanation or rationale. Sessler finally found a physician in the Sandwich area who has agreed to see them and who may become their primary care physician. Nevertheless, she still chafes at having been repeatedly turned away and having to go out of the Illinois Valley area for primary care. Compounding her frustration is the fact that they weren’t receiving any pain medication from Perales. Though Sessler’s husband Gary is on a pain management regiment stemming from a 1971 motorcycle accident and a pair of knee replacements, his medication is dispensed by a longtime orthopedic surgeon, not by Perales. With Gary’s pain needs being met, the Sesslers only needed a new primary care physician. “(We were) being treated like lepers or drug dealers,” she said. “If we were really just out to get drugs, would we be upfront and honest about what our meds prescribed by Perales were? “I’m still pretty upset about it,” she said. “I feel they’re painting the patients with the same brush as they painted the doctor. I don’t think it’s fair they should judge patients by their doctor’s behavior.” Victor Croasdale of Spring Valley also found a new physician, but not until after a long search in which colored by what he termed “guilt by association.” Croasdale noted that Perales, whatever his legal troubles, “was a very competent doctor, and I still think that.” “Now, I actually liked Perales. He would spend a lot of time explaining the condition and explaining the medication to control it. He was very good in that respect.” Sessler, too, had favorable recollections of visits to Perales. “All the allegations aside, we found him to be a very caring, compassionate and knowledgeable physician,” she said. “He solved medical problems that other doctors couldn’t or wouldn’t bother with. “I am severely disappointed in his personal behavior and sad that it is destroying his life, but what the Illinois Valley medical community is doing to his patients is downright petty, self-serving and ludicrous.” The FBI initially stated copies of confiscated medical records would be released to any patient who furnishes a written request. Since then, questions and complaints have arisen from patients who said the FBI has been dismissive and uncooperative; but the agency’s press office has not returned multiple calls from the NewsTribune. A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said congressional staff would assist any Perales patients trying to retrieve copies of their records. Ex-patients may call Kinzinger at (815) 431-9271.