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Coda


Spend enough time with David Arndt's story, and you feel as if nothing could surprise you.

His downfall has a cinematic quality to it. After being away from his story for awhile, I was curious to see how it had continued to unfold. The dramatic turns just kept coming.

Arrogant, compassionate, and reckless, David Arndt seems incapable of living his life in anything but capital letters.

Not long after this piece was published, federal prosecutors swooped in and took over the county drug case against him. They alleged Arndt was a serious drug dealer, part of a wider ring, and that the undercover sting at the Chandler Inn exposed just a glimpse of his illegal activity.

To support their case, they produced testimony in court papers from several unnamed witnesses. The most sensational allegation: that Arndt was supplementing his income by practicing "back-alley medicine." This image of Arndt, the once-rising star in the dazzling constellation of Boston medicine, furtively sewing up bullet holes in drug-trade players unwilling to go to the hospital might be dismissed as too implausible by even immoderate screenwriters. But for people who lived through Arndt's real-life fall, nothing could be considered too over the top. Even the language attributed to Arndt fits the part. One witness said the former surgeon had boasted he would have no problem "disemboweling," with just a "quick swipe of the scalpel," anyone who "ratted" on him about his drug deals.

With the new federal charges, Arndt was ordered held without bail. In the Middlesex County case involving charges of statutory child rape, a trial date was set for the fall of 2005.

Meanwhile,Arndt's malpractice insurer agreed to pay $1.25 mil-ion to Charles Algeri, the former cab driver Arndt left anesthetized on the operating table while he ran out to the bank. Algeri says Arndt botched his surgery so badly that he was left with excruciating pain and had to undergo two additional operations to try to correct the damage.

Having battled his own drug addiction years ago, Algeri says he often finds himself replaying in his mind the fateful morning when he went under the knife with Arndt. "The day he showed up, I should have known better. I said to myself, 'There's something wrong with this guy.' Dark circles under his eyes, unshaven-he was a mess. But what am I supposed to do? Ask him to pee in a cup? Piss off the guy who's about to cut me open?"

On June 29, 2005, after spending nearly a year in jail, Arndt walked into a courtroom and pleaded guilty to a host of federal drug charges, including conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

He did so knowing that sentencing guidelines will require him to spend a minimum of ten years in prison. The prosecutor said she will recommend a sentence of fifteen to nineteen years.

In court, Arndt was unusually contrite, telling the judge he had been addicted to drugs. "I was out of my mind," Arndt said, "and being incarcerated probably saved my life."


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