Doctor in Virginia sentenced to forty years for drug distribution ring!
As reported by abcnews.go.com, Dr. Joel Smithers from Virginia, was sentenced in US District Court, for what prosecutors informed was running a drug distribution ring out of his medical practice. Dr. Smithers was sentenced for forty years in prison for illegally prescribing opioids, and selling drugs across the board. The Judge James Jones decided on forty years, while Smithers may have faced mandatory minimum sentence of twenty years or maximum sentence of life in prison. The US Attorney in Abington, Mr. Thomas Cullen confirms that the strict sentence is a just punishment for the crimes committed by Smithers. In addition to his four hundred and eighty months in prison, the US District Court for Western District Virginia in Abington, Smithers received a three years supervised release, and ordered to pay a fine of $86,000. He was returned to custody for further detention.
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For the past twenty years opioid epidemic claimed the lives of 400,000 Americans, broken families, damaged relationships, and communities left with ever-rising costs of social services, drug rehabs, mental health counseling and treatment, and foster care.
Back in May, Smithers was convicted on eight hundred counts of illegal opioids distribution, the drugs such oxycodone and oxymorphone, that cause the death of women in West Virginia. In his testimony, Dr. Smithers age 36, admitted to while he cared for his patients a great deal, he was also deceived by them. Smithers is a married man and a father of five children. According to the reports by authorities, between 2015 and 2017, Smithers had prescribed over half a million dosages of opioids to various patients from his native Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, with the main location in Martinsville, Virginia. He’s been operating his illegal drug trafficking until federal agents arrived at his Martinsville office with a search warrant. The jury decided that Smither’s prescription caused women’s death. He gave her a prescription of oxycodone and oxymorphone which resulted in her death.
The US Attorney Thomas Cullen stated that this medical practitioner operated on a large scale, that thrived on dangerous addiction cycle and hopelessness. He further added that the defendant violated his Hippocratic Oath to his patients. Smithers had been prescribing Schedule II drugs like, fentanyl, hydromorphone, oxycodone and oxycodone to people who drove thousands of miles, and waited for hours, often in their cars to get drugs they desperately craved.
Many of his patients had testified that they seriously needed the opioids to battle their chronic pains, and felt strongly that his actions were justified.
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As reported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the number of opioids prescribed in Martinsville in 2016 was 399.9 per resident, statistically the highest rates in the US cities.
As reported by WSET-TV, the Judge in this case recommended that Smithers serves his long sentence in prison, located close to his family and be subjected to mental health treatment.
According to some court documents, Smithers has intention to file an appeal for his sentence and convictions.
As reported by National Institute on Drug Abuse , in 2017 approximately 1.7 million Americans suffered from substance abuse disorders, associated with misuse of prescription opioids. Addiction to opioids is now serious national crisis, that is currently affecting public health as well as social and economic welfare. Staggering statistics shows that more then 130 people in the US die from overdosing on opioids. In 2017 more then forty seven thousand american died as a result of opioids overdose, including prescription opioids, heroin, and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.
In the most recent news, attorneys for over two thousand local governments agree to a tentative settlement with Purdue Pharma, a major producer of OxyContyn due to a nation-wide opioid crisis epidemics.