Triplicate staff writer
He used to be a wonderful provider for his family, his wife said. He helped raise his three children and was a faithful husband for 17 years.
But that all ended four years ago when the Crescent City man suffered a back injury and was given a controversial prescription drug for his pain. It was the beginning of Raymond Michael Colbys downfall, according to his wife.
Now, Ray Colby is awaiting sentencing in Del Norte County jail after pleading guilty Tuesday to conspiracy charges for residential robbery and burglary.
This drug is so powerful ... theres like regular people going nuts on it, going to pharmacies and trying to steal them, said Jill Colby. If wed known any of this when they put him on it, we wouldnt have done it. He never had any trouble with the law before this.
Jill Colby said it all started in 1997 when her husband was prescribed OxyContin for a previous back injury. Raymond Colby had worked for a street-striping service in Del Norte County and suffered his injury when he tried to grab a paint machine that was falling off the back of a truck, creating a compression fracture in his back.
When he first got them he took them like he was supposed to. Then after a while he would take more than he should, to where he would take a months worth the first two weeks. The second two weeks of the month he would go through withdrawals, said Jill Colby.
He couldnt get enough of them because they are so addictive. He tried to get off them three or four separate occasions but the withdrawals were so bad he couldnt stand it, she said He would get cold sweats, shakes, leg cramps, vomiting and the vomiting lasted for months.
Jill Colby said her marriage became particularly strained when doctors in town became hesitant in prescribing OxyContin.
We had a separation over this prescription drug abuse, she said. A doctor tried to ween him off of it but he would get really, really sick again ... then money began disappearing time was disappearing. He was buying them illegally.
Jill Colby said the two reconciled, but his suspicious behavior continued sporadically for the next couple of years and was responsible for a second separation last November.
Then came the arrest.
Ray Colby was implicated in a home-invasion robbery last Christmas when an attempt to buy the prescription drug from a street source went awry, according to Jill Colby.
District Attorney Robert Drossel said OxyContin was among four bottles of prescription drugs and approximately $1,600 in cash that was taken during the robbery.
Drossel said it appeared to him the robbery had been planned in advance.
Its my understanding, based on the police reports, they went to the home on the guise of repaying the victim some money he was owed, Drossel said. But once they got inside it got ugly.
According to Drossel, a second man charged in the robbery, Gregory Allen Bowen, savagely assaulted the victim. Bowen is currently being held by Oregon authorities on an unrelated murder charge.
Jill Colby said her husband and Bowen were not friends but had met through a mutual acquaintance.
He didnt know Bowen. He didnt know how violent he was when they went down there. Ray Colby was just standing there ... I know he shouldnt have been there, she said.
Drossel confirmed Ray Colby stood idle during the assault and much of the robbery, but added he was active in searching the home. Drossel also pointed out Colby did not intervene to stop the assault.
Raymond Colbys sentencing is set for Feb 14. Drossel said the maximum he could receive for the robbery is 7.3 years in prison.
Jill Colby said the only good thing for her husband in the past few months is he is being forced off the drug. Right now, in jail, hes doing better than he has in a long time, because it is being enforced, she said.
I mainly just want to warn people that this stuff is out there and it can ruin your life, she said.