Matthew Perry’s Death Sparks Criminal Investigation: Arrests Expected Soon

Perry’s death leads to a criminal investigation, multiple arrests expected soon

Matthew Perry. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, MICHAEL KOVAC/FILMMAGIC)
Matthew Perry. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, MICHAEL KOVAC/FILMMAGIC)

Matthew Perry, beloved actor and star of “Friends,” passed away in October 2023 at the age of 54 due to the acute effects of ketamine.

The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s report revealed that the ketamine level in his blood was equivalent to that used in general anesthesia. This revelation has led to a seven-month-long criminal investigation to uncover the source of the powerful drug.

A law enforcement source involved in the investigation told PEOPLE this week that authorities believe “multiple people” should be charged. The investigation is being conducted by the LAPD, DEA, and the U.S. Postal Inspector, and is reportedly nearing its conclusion. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will ultimately decide whether or not to press charges.

Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani explained that potential charges could include distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death or conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance resulting in death.

“This is typically used to charge drug dealers, but it can also be used against pill mills and doctors who overprescribe medication without properly seeing patients,” Rahmani said.

Depending on various factors, sentences for these charges can range from mandatory minimums to life imprisonment.

Former CIA and FBI special agent Tracy Walder added that suspects could also face charges of mail fraud. “They’re looking at the illegal transportation of drugs across state lines without a prescription.

Matthew Perry portrait. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, NEWSMAKERS/GETTY)
Matthew Perry portrait. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, NEWSMAKERS/GETTY)

This is a crime, and it’s likely part of the evidence gathered,” Walder explained. She speculated that Perry or someone in his “inner circle” might have engaged in “doctor shopping,” obtaining prescriptions from multiple physicians across different states.

This practice, along with doctors sending prescriptions across state lines, is a federal offense.

Dr. Michelle Reyes, MD Medical Director of the Med Spot in Woodland Hills, California, emphasized the legal boundaries of medical licensing. “I can only prescribe medication to someone physically in my state of licensure.

Writing a prescription for someone in another state or mailing drugs across state lines is not supported by state licenses,” she said.

An investigative source within the LAPD mentioned that the department has been working on the case since December 2023 and handed it over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

When asked about the investigation’s status on June 25, the LAPD’s public information officer declined to comment.

Walder noted that federal investigations can be lengthy, sometimes taking years. “It could take a year or more for charges to be filed. One case I worked on took four and a half years.

The process involves convening a grand jury, presenting all the evidence, and deciding whether to indict the person or people involved. If the grand jury decides to indict, arrests can be made. If not, the case may return to state authorities for further action.”

Los Angeles defense attorney and former federal prosecutor Caleb Mason explained the U.S. Postal Services’ involvement. “Postal inspectors likely found mail containing illegal drugs, prompting their participation in the investigation,” Mason said.

Matthew Perry. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, DAVID M. BENETT/DAVE BENETT/GETTY)
Matthew Perry. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, DAVID M. BENETT/DAVE BENETT/GETTY)

The U.S. Attorney’s Office runs a task force dedicated to investigating and prosecuting overdose cases in the Central District of California, which includes Los Angeles County, where Perry died.

Mason highlighted the importance of investigating drug overdose deaths. “Anytime there’s a death, a police response and investigation should follow. If someone dies from an accidental drug overdose, authorities should investigate the source of the drugs.

The initial investigating agency, such as the LAPD, might notify the DEA, DA’s office, or U.S. Attorney’s office,” Mason explained. He added that while many overdose deaths go uninvestigated due to volume, Perry’s high-profile case drew significant attention.

“In theory, every drug overdose death should be investigated to determine where the drugs came from.”

Perry was found unresponsive in a hot tub at his Pacific Palisades home. The coroner’s report mentioned that Perry had been undergoing ketamine infusion therapy, but the last session was about a week and a half before his death and did not contribute to it.

The report also listed drowning, coronary artery disease, and the effects of buprenorphine — a medication used to treat opioid use disorder — as contributing factors in his death.

Following the coroner’s report, the LAPD began its investigation in December, right after the medical examiner closed theirs. Perry had been open about his struggles with addiction in his memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.”

In a 2022 interview with PEOPLE, he shared, “I wanted to share when I was safe from going into the dark side again. I had to wait until I was pretty safely sober — and away from the active disease of alcoholism and addiction — to write it all down. I was pretty certain that it would help people if I did.”

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