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Coral Gables penis doctor Paul Perito accused of mangling a patient's member

In September 2006, a St. Lucie County sheriff approached a black Ford pickup idling outside the Easy Living Trailer Park. Inside, next to a screwdriver used to start the clunker, a man sat slumped over the center console. After being shaken awake and stumbling out with "bloodshot and watery" eyes, the driver blew a .081 — just over the legal limit — into the officer's Intoxilyzer.

The man, whom we'll call Hank to protect his identity, had been down this road before, with three previous DUI convictions. So a few months later, a judge sentenced him to three years in prison.

Today, Hank's saga must stand as the worst punishment ever received for taking a boozy snooze at the wheel of a vehicle. Because three years ago, Hank developed blisters on his penis, launching a series of botched operations at a roulette wheel of hospitals, culminating with him having his penis amputated.

The doctor whom Hank says is most responsible for robbing him of his penis is none other than Dr. Paul Perito, a physician who has somehow stayed in scrubs despite charges of organized fraud and racketeering linked to a strip club in which he was an investor, allegations of a "special K" habit, and an ongoing lawsuit by a patient who also lost his penis. Hank recently filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) and six doctors, including Perito.

"Hank has an eighth-grade education," says his sister, who requested anonymity. "He's a hard-working, good man. He's just had some trouble with alcohol."

In a December 20 court filing, Perito denied any negligence in Hank's treatment, blaming the patient's "actions or omissions." Perito's attorney William L. Petros did not return a phone message seeking comment. Perito himself did not respond to three phone messages and an email. In August 2010, though, he beckoned New Times to his office and angrily waved a penile implant at a reporter while insisting his criminal case had resulted in a "complete dismissal... My reputation right now should be exonerated."

Says Hank's attorney, Spencer Aronfeld: "It's tough to fathom what Dr. Perito would have to do for the state to finally revoke his license."

A lifelong Floridian, 51-year-old Hank is a man of simple pleasures. He enjoys fishing and four-wheeling — and unfortunately for him, often a beer or two too many. In 1992, he was charged with a hit-and-run following a booze-fueled accident, his third such conviction, resulting in 11 months in lockup. By the time he was arrested in 2006, though, he had stayed mostly out of vehicular trouble for a decade and a half and was working as a fence installer.

Hank spent two uneventful years at the Okeechobee Correctional Institution before his path crossed Perito's. "These bumps come up on my privates," he drawls now, "and I couldn't piss right."

Hank was sent under guard to South Miami's Larkin Community Hospital, where Perito was called in to check out the damage. Hank didn't know it then, but the urologist had a past arguably more checkered than the undereducated, alcoholic patient.

The rangy 50-year-old Perito interned at the University of Miami and was first licensed in Florida in 1994. He cuts a distinctive figure, pairing cowboy boots with green scrubs. His website boasts that his private practice — Perito Urology — is the world's leading provider of penile implants. He claims to have surgically installed 3,000 of the silicone rods, which keep their recipients forever erect.

But the Kentucky native's successes have been chased by trouble.

In 1999, he was charged with battery and culpable negligence in Miami-Dade. The charges were dropped, and the case file has been mostly destroyed. In 2002, according to state corporation records, Perito was registered as the vice president of PPNJ Entertainment. Its primary holding: Playpen South, a Goulds strip club. The same year, Perito dropped $590,000 on a Kumquat Avenue house in Coconut Grove.

Charges filed in 2004 might provide insight to where the doctor was getting all of his extra cash. Perito faced dozens of counts involving the illegal sale of prescription drugs under federal RICO racketeering statutes. In a Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) affidavit, witnesses told investigators that Perito, who is not a licensed pharmacist, and his cronies had bought the club with proceeds from peddling counterfeit and diluted cancer, kidney disease, and AIDS medicine. "The idea that anybody would be willing to dilute drugs and profit from the suffering of other human beings is horrific," said then-State Attorney General and future governor Charlie Crist.

One of the informants recalled seeing Perito using controlled substances — particularly ketamine — "on numerous occasions." He even showed up at Playpen high on special K, claimed the informant who was also a patient, the night before he was due to perform surgery on him.

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Gus Garcia-Roberts