A Doctor Received 40 Years in Prison for Prescribing Opioids


A doctor located in Virginia is accused and convicted of prescribing over 500,000 does of opioids in two years. He was sentenced to 40 years behind bars for this offense. He was found to be leading an interstate distribution drug ring. 

Overprescribing painkillers is one of the significant problems with today’s opioid epidemic. It was concluded that the doctor, Dr. Joel Smothers, had traveled hundreds of miles to pick up different opioids. He would travel across state lines to obtain these opioids. These opioids included hydromorphone, oxymorphone, oxycodone, and fentanyl. He prescribed each patient he had seen in his Martinsville Virginia office since August of 2015. 

The doctor, only 36, was found guilty of over 800 counts of prescribing opioids illegally. The jurors found the drugs he had prescribed had caused the death of a woman. He was sentenced to life in prison. He was a large-scale drug dealer that was hiding behind the safety of his white doctor’s coat. However, this doctor forgot that there are laws on refilling controlled substances, and there is a penalty for selling prescription drugs

This doctor had his own testimony as to why he prescribed the opioids to his patients. He stated that his patients told him that pain clinics in the region were shut down. This is what opted for him to prescribe opioids to his patients. He said he has now learned that he shouldn’t trust people by their word. 

The doctor refused to accept insurance for these drugs. It was because of this that the doctor had obtained large sums of cash. He had over 700,000 in cash from the prescriptions of these opioids. He would also accept credit cards as a form of payment as well. This went on until March of 2017. This was when his office was raided. 

The doctor would allow patients to come to his office late at night. Sometimes people were coming and going as late as midnight. People would wait for hours to see him. Many patients waited in excess of twelve hours to see this doctor so they could obtain pain medications for selling purposes or intent to abuse the medication. 

It was in May that he was convicted. He was ultimately responsible for 861 federal drug charges. He was also charged with one count of illegally distributing controlled substances and one count of possession with intent to sell.