Virginia doctor sentenced to 40 years in opioid case

This undated photo provided by the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority shows Dr. Joel Smithers. Smithers is facing the possibility of life in prison after being convicted in May of more than 800 counts of illegally prescribing drugs, including oxycodone and oxymorphone that caused the death of a West Virginia woman. When he is sentenced Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 the best Smithers can hope for is a mandatory minimum of 20 years.Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority) .

ABINGDON, Va. — A Virginia doctor who prosecutors said ran his medical practice like an interstate drug distribution ring has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for illegally prescribing opioids.

Dr. Joel Smithers, of Greensboro, North Carolina, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Abingdon.

Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Day Rottenborn said Judge James Jones sentenced Smithers to 40 years. He faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life.

Smithers was convicted of more than 800 counts of illegally distributing opioids, including oxycodone and oxymorphone that caused the death of a West Virginia woman.

Authorities say Smithers prescribed opioids to patients from five states while based in Martinsville, Virginia.

Smithers testified that he was a caring doctor who was deceived by some of his patients.

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