Local doctor given suspended sentence for cocaine conviction

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Reno Richard Cova Jr., convicted of two drug-related felonies and a misdemeanor, faced five years in prison.

On Monday, Circuit Judge Benjamin F. Lewis ordered five years of supervised probation.

Cova, a local doctor, was convicted Jan. 11 of possession of crack cocaine and powdered cocaine, both felonies. He was also found guilty of possessing drug paraphernalia -- a crack pipe. He was sentenced to two five-year terms in prison, to be served concurrently, and 60 days in the county jail for having the crack pipe.

"We charged what we thought we could prove, and ultimately we did prove," said Morley Swingle, Cape Girardeau County prosecuting attorney.

Lewis gave Cova credit for having served the 60 days while awaiting trial and suspended the prison sentence in lieu of supervised probation.

"I think the judge treated him the same way anyone else would have been treated for a drug possession case," Swingle said. "There was no proof he was a dealer of cocaine."

Cova faced drug-related charges in federal court in 1984; he was sentenced to six months of confinement and two and a half years of probation.

At the time of his arrest last year, and until his conviction in January, Cova held a valid medical license, according to the Missouri Division of Professional Registration. He is no longer listed as a state-licensed medical doctor.

According to Swingle, Cova's professional registration expired Jan. 31.

The prosecutor said Cova received the same treatment from the judge that "anyone on the street would have received for somebody who is charged with possessing drugs."

Swingle said Cova was in jail from the time of his Feb. 16 arrest until April 10, at which point he entered an inpatient treatment facility, where he stayed until Aug. 22.

The conditions of Cova's probation include continued outpatient counseling through the Gibson Center, random drug and alcohol testing, no contact with anyone possessing illegal substances, no alcohol consumption and 100 hours of community service.

Cova's probation officer will determine where he does community service.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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