The Madison County Record Jan. 24, 2014, 2:15pm

It’s amazing how you can get somebody completely wrong. There you are thinking he’s a menace to society and you suddenly discover he’s a great humanitarian.

Take drug dealer Sean McGilvery. It turns out he wasn’t dealing drugs just to make money, with no regard for the harm he was doing to customers and their families. On the contrary, he was only dealing drugs out of the kindness of his heart, to help people. Turning a profit was the furthest thing from his mind.

We have to admit that we’d developed a low opinion of McGilvery over the last several months. If not for testimony from a credible source, we would never have known what a really great guy he is.

We want to thank that source -- McGilvery’s public defender, Rodney Holmes of St. Louis -- for setting us straight.

Last October, McGilvery pled  guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin. Just this week, U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan sentenced him to 10 years in prison, with five years of supervised release.

Unless you’ve been in a drug-induced stupor yourself for the last year, you’d know that McGilvery’s customers included former St. Clair County Judge Michael Cook, currently awaiting sentencing on heroin possession and weapons charges.

If you shared our low opinion of McGilvery, you’ll be chagrined to learn that he did not become an addict for hedonistic reasons. Oh no. As Holmes explained, McGilvery began using heroin to relieve back pain. (At Walmart or Walgreen’s, you’re looking at $5-7 for a box of Doan’s Pills. Who can afford that?)

Nor was Sean a greedy capitalist. In fact, he was operating, more or less, as a nonprofit, making just enough money to continue accommodating his customers. And he was only supplying Cook to “keep him from getting sick.” That $10,000 in cash that police seized when he was arrested probably was donations to his worthy cause of helping the sick.

What a guy! Why are we sending him to prison? We should give him a public service award!

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