A former Allegany County physician who was caught up in an FBI investigation into anthrax bioterrorism attacks was sentenced Friday in New Jersey for assaulting his wife and stepdaughter.
A judge in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., sentenced Dr. Kenneth M. Berry to two years' probation and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine. Berry was arrested Aug. 5 in the Jersey Shore town after he attacked his wife, Tana Luecken-Berry of Wellsville, and his stepdaughter, Dara Luecken, in a hotel.
The domestic incident took place on the same day that FBI agents conducted nationally publicized searches on Berry's Wellsville home and a New Jersey summer home owned by his family. The FBI said it was seeking evidence in the anthrax letter attacks that killed five people and made 17 others seriously ill in the fall of 2001.
Berry, who now lives in New Jersey and has not been charged in the anthrax case, could not be reached Saturday to comment. Luecken-Berry confirmed in a brief telephone interview that Berry had been sentenced but declined to comment further. The couple separated after the incident.
A close friend of the physician in Wellsville said a plea deal in the assault case will allow Berry, 46, to keep his license to practice medicine.
"I spoke to (Berry) after he went to court on Friday, and he told me he didn't have to take a felony, so he can keep his license," said Richard "Pastor Dick" Helms, a Wellsville minister. "He's relieved about that part of it."
Clifford Lazzaro, Berry's attorney, told the sentencing judge that Berry's behavior last August was a result of the stress resulting from the FBI searches.
A month after the searches, Berry lost his job as an emergency room physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in McKeesport, Pa.