Last Wednesday, former doctor Joel Smithers who ran a medical practice in Virginia was sentenced to 40 years in prison due to illegal opioid prescription. He faces a minimum sentence of two decades and a maximum of life.
He was convicted on more than 800 counts of illegal distribution of opioids, including oxymorphone and oxycodone that caused the death of a woman from West Virginia.
According to the prosecutors, Smithers prescribed more than 500,000 doses of opioids to patients from Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Ohio.
His practice was based in the western town of Martinsville in Virginia from the period of 2015 to 2017. This town has an estimated population of 13,000.
US attorney Thomas Cullen emphasizes that this severe punishment for Smithers’ actions that were contributing to the major problem of addiction and despair. Unfortunately, more than 300,000 individuals have died because of opioid overdose from the 2000s.
Justice Is Served
Smithers, who’s 36, is a married father of 5 children and he’s from Greensboro, North Carolina. According to his testimony, he was a ‘caring doctor who was deceived by some of his patients’.
Some of his patients remained very loyal and testified that they needed these potent opioids in order to cope with their chronic pain.
Believe it or not, the prosecutors note that a lot of patients would drive 100s of miles in one way only to get to the doctor’s clinic and get a prescription.
The former doctor prescribed these meds to every patient and before he received a warrant, he took more than $700,000 in cash and payments from credit cards. His practice didn’t accept insurance.
According to the judge’s recommendations, Smithers will be serving his sentence in a prison close to his family and will also attend mental health therapy. Smithers plans on appealing his sentence.