Lawyers for a prominent South Portland dermatologist who has been convicted of tax evasion and writing illegal prescriptions are appealing, and they want their client to remain free while they do so.

The notice of appeal for Joel Sabean, as well as the motion for Sabean to remain free while the appeal is pending, were filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Sabean was convicted in November on all 58 counts against him, including five counts of that he evaded nearly $1 million in federal income taxes. Two weeks ago, he was sentenced to two years in federal prison and ordered to redo his taxes for 2008 through 2012 and pay all his back taxes and penalties.

Sabean sent a family member in Florida $2.3 million over five years and then wrote the money off on his tax returns as medical expenses. Prosecutors alleged that Sabean sent the money to the woman to keep her quiet about what they said were years of sexual abuse and also to encourage the woman to continue to send him sexually explicit emails.

Sabean, 70, who has not been charged with sexual abuse, said he was deceived by the woman into believing she had a myriad of illnesses over the period requiring kidney and heart transplants, among other expensive procedures. The woman testified that she falsified the bills for those procedures, but contended that Sabean knew they weren’t real and helped her concoct the phony bills after bookkeepers and accountants in his practice questioned the large sums that were sent to the woman.

At his sentencing, Sabean said his mental state for years has been affected by depression and delusional behavior, that his life was now ruined and he faces “crushing debt.”

In January, U.S. District Judge George Z. Singal rejected a bid for a new trial for Sabean. At the sentencing, Singal ordered Sabean to report to prison in August, after he completes radiation treatment for prostate cancer that was discovered after his conviction.

Sabean’s lawyers haven’t yet filed the formal appeal, only the notice that they plan to appeal. However, the motion seeking to allow Sabean to remain free while the appeal goes forward outlines some of their arguments, including a contention that the jury should not have been told of the allegations of sexual abuse. They also argued that the charges of tax evasion and illegally prescribing medicine should have been tried separately, and that evidence the lawyers had raising questions about the veracity of the key witness should have been allowed in, along with evidence that suggested Sabean had a severe mental illness.


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