UPDATE: 2:30 p.m.
A federal judge called it the most egregious case of overprescribing he's ever seen as he sentenced Dr. Smithers to 40 years in prison with no chance of parole.
He faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life.
Family members of both Smithers and his patients were in the courtroom, one of which is the only confirmed overdose death caused by Dr. Smithers over-prescribing opioids. The U.S. Attorney said there was evidence showing more possible overdose deaths caused by Dr. Smithers' prescriptions but no case stronger to present in court.
"This physician perpetuated, on a massive scale, the vicious cycle of addiction and despair," U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen stated. "Although the sentence imposed is severe, it serves as just punishment for an individual whose actions caused the death of one person and wrecked the lives of many others. I am grateful for the hard work of our federal, state, and local partners and am committed to continuing the vital work of prosecuting corrupt heath-care providers."
In total, Smithers raked in $700,000 in profits from his pill sales.
In court it was revealed that Smithers' office lacked basic medical supplies, a receptionist who lived out of a back room during the work week, and patients who slept outside and urinated in the parking lot.
At trial, one woman who described herself as an addict compared Smithers’ practice to pill mills she frequented in Florida, receiving medication without any kind of physical exam or medical records.
The judge also recommended he serve his sentence in a facility close to his family and receive mental health treatment because the defense argued he suffers from Bipolar Disorder.
He said he hopes this sentence will "send a message".
"People only went there for one reason, and that was just to get pain medication that they could abuse themselves or sell it for profit," a DEA agent on the Smithers case, stated.
Smithers testified that he was a caring doctor who was deceived by some of his patients.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Washington Field Division and the Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General. Task force officers with the police departments of Bristol, Martinsville, Buena Vista, Roanoke, and Roanoke County; the Sheriff’s Offices of Henry County and Pittsylvania County; and the Virginia State Police assisted in the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Cagle Juhan, Randy Ramseyer and Zachary T. Lee prosecuted the case for the United States.
ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — A Virginia doctor who was convicted of more than 800 counts of illegally prescribing opioids faces a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.
Dr. Joel Smithers, of Greensboro, North Carolina, is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon.
Smithers was convicted in May of illegally distributing opioids, including oxycodone and oxymorphone that caused the death of a West Virginia woman.
Authorities say Smithers prescribed more than 500,000 doses of opioids to patients from five states during the two years he ran a medical office in Martinsville, Virginia.
During his trial, Smithers testified that he was a caring doctor who was deceived by some of his patients.
Smithers faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison, but could get up to life.