A 50-year-old Rockland woman who gave methadone to her brother the day he died five years ago was sentenced April 16 to 60 months in prison.

Rochelle Kenney was sentenced by Judge John Woodcock Jr. in U.S. District Court in Bangor for health care fraud and for distribution of methadone.

Kenney was indicted in September 2007 by a federal grand jury for the offenses that the U.S. Attorney’s Office maintained resulted in the death of her 43-year-old brother John Kenney on April 26, 2005, while he was on Matinicus. Her brother had been a commercial fisherman and lived in Rockland.

The prosecution argued that Rochelle Kenney engaged in a scheme to get methadone from the Discovery House clinic in Waterville by giving misinformation to her treatment provider. Her brother had driven her to the Waterville clinic and when they arrived back home in Rockland, she gave him some methadone. A few hours later he traveled as a passenger on a flight to Matinicus. At 5:30 p.m. that day, he was found slumped on the steps of a home and was later declared dead.

Rochelle Kenney pleaded guilty in April 2009 to the counts but the defense has disputed that the methadone was the key factor in her brother’s death and has countered in court filings that John Kenney had a severe heart problem. The defense argued that eight days before his death, his doctor advised him to be admitted to the hospital to have his heart monitored but he refused so he could go fishing off Matinicus.

In addition to the five years in prison, Rochelle Kenney will serve three years of supervised release and pay $161 in restitution and $200 in a special assessment.

 

The government had argued that the defendant was a “state-subsidized drug dealer” illegal conduct impacted countless others in the community, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison addressed the court and stressed the problems associated with prescription medication diversion being experienced by Knox County and Maine generally. The sheriff asked that the court impose a sentence that would send a strong deterrent message to those who would divert their pharmaceuticals.

 

In imposing the sentence, the court upwardly departed 27 months from the otherwise applicable sentencing guideline range. The court found that the defendant’s conduct violated a public trust and was, in effect, “killing the community” of Rockland. The court also found that the defendant had never truly accepted responsibility for diverting drugs to her brother and countless others.

United States Attorney Paula Silsby praised the investigation conducted by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office, as well as the assistance provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.