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UPDATE: Virginia doctor to be sentenced this week for illegally prescribing drugs

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) – Smithers 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.

(WVVA) A Virginia doctor who prescribed about half a million doses of addictive opioids in two years is facing up to life in prison, this is according to the Associated Press.

Authorities say Dr. Joel Smithers contributed to the opioid abuse epidemic in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia, as many of his patients drove hundreds of miles to see him.

He was convicted this year on more than 800 counts of illegally prescribing drugs. When he is sentenced on Wednesday, the best Smithers can hope for is a mandatory minimum of 20 years.

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