Virginia doctor gets 40 years in prison for illegally prescribing opioids

Virginia doctor gets 40 years in prison for illegally prescribing opioids
© Getty Images

A Virginia doctor who was convicted of more than 800 counts of illegally prescribing drugs has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Joel Smithers, 36, was sentenced Wednesday by Judge James Jones in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, The Associated Press reported. He had been facing a maximum sentence of life in prison.

ADVERTISEMENT

Smithers was convicted last month on drug prescribing charges. One of his prescriptions led to the death of a West Virginia woman.

Authorities reportedly said he had prescribed more than 500,000 opioid doses to patients in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia between 2015 and 2017.

U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen called the sentence "just punishment.”

“This physician perpetuated, on a massive scale, the vicious cycle of addiction and despair,” Cullen said in a statement to the AP.

The doctor had testified that he was misled by some of his patients, according to the wire service. Smithers said in a court document that he plans to appeal the convictions.