Virginia Doctor Gets 40 Years for Prescribing Half a Million Opioid Pills


A Martinsville, Va., doctor has been convicted of more than 860 federal drug charges after distributing half a million opioid pills in fewer than two years.

Dr. Joel Smithers, 36, was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison for acts that, in the words of the U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, “perpetuated, on a massive scale, the vicious cycle of addiction and despair.” In addition, Smithers was convicted of having caused the death of a West Virginia woman who overdosed on oxycodone and oxymorphone he prescribed.

“Dr. Smithers flooded Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio with his opioid prescriptions and hid behind his white doctor’s coat as a large-scale drug dealer,” said Jesse Fong, DEA special agent in charge of the Washington Division Office. “The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squads will relentlessly investigate and arrest these drug dealers disguised as doctors in our communities.”

According to the Department of Justice, Smithers first opened his practice in Martinsville in 2015. In the following several years, he prescribed “controlled substances” to every patient, including oxymorphone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and fentanyl. Patients would come from hundreds of miles away to receive drugs from Smithers’s “pill mill.” – READ MORE

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