BRENTWOOD, N.H. — The Newburyport doctor tied to the Bayview Crematorium scandal will have to serve his six-month jail sentence, even after the state Supreme Court threw out several of his convictions, a judge ruled yesterday.
Putnam Breed, 71, of North Hampton was ordered to report to the Rockingham County jail on Sept. 21, roughly two years after Superior Court Judge Tina Nadeau imposed sentence in the case. That was followed by a series of appeals.
Breed was a prominent surgeon at Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport when state police raided the Seabrook crematorium where he moonlighted in February 2005. Authorities discovered a paperwork scheme, in which legally required examinations of bodies were skipped to boost profits.
Breed's convictions on two felony theft charges stand. He had to surrender his medical license and leave his post with the Massachusetts Medical Examiner's Office after he was implicated with Bayview's practices. A raid on the site found unlabeled urns of remains and other shoddy conditions inside the crematorium, which is situated on a wooded, dead-end road off Interstate 95 in Seabrook.
Breed was one of five people convicted in the crematorium sandal and has the longest running court battle among them. Yesterday, Rockingham County Attorney James Reams said he hoped this would mark the end of the drawn-out court battle.
"The judge was very clear about how she sentenced this defendant and why she ruled that he should have to serve time in jail for his crimes," Reams said. "I hope this ends the needless and wasteful litigation, and this sordid chapter is closed."
Breed is now set to become the second person to go to jail for his role in the crematorium scandal. Bayview's former owner, Derek Wallace of Salisbury, completed his state prison sentence in July. He was convicted of filing false tax returns.
Defense lawyer Christopher Carter said he spoke with Breed yesterday and suggested that the battle over whether his client should serve time may not be over.
In recent weeks, it appeared as though Breed might avoid going to jail, when the state Supreme Court threw out nine convictions of fraudulent handling of recordable writing and a felony theft charge.
But the justices upheld two of Breed's felony theft convictions, and ruled that the death records he was first convicted of falsifying did not have the same legal protections of other protected documents such as wills, deeds and mortgages.
After that decision, Carter called on the high court to reconsider the two remaining felony theft convictions, which the justices declined to do. That sent the case back before Nadeau, which led to yesterday's decision.
"We're disappointed with the trial court's ruling that Dr. Breed's sentence should not be reconsidered, given that more than 80 percent of the convictions, which were before the courts at the first sentencing hearing, have been vacated," Carter said. "Even though the Supreme Court decision established the majority of Dr. Breed's convictions were unfounded as a matter of law, the trial court renders that a pyrrhic victory. We are evaluating alternatives for appealing the denial of our request for resentencing."
In a one-page decision, Nadeau said she imposed the same sentence on each of the convictions because "the court understood there were certain novel legal issues raised with respect to some of the charges."
"The court did not rely on evidence relevant only to the vacated convictions in imposing sentence," she added.
Breed was initially sentenced to a year in county jail with half of that time suspended. He has been allowed to remain free on bail while fighting his convictions.