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VOL. 45 | NO. 25 | Friday, June 18, 2021

Former Tennessee doctor gets 3 years for illegal opioid distribution

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NASHVILLE (AP) — A former Tennessee doctor who pleaded guilty to unlawfully distributing opioids has been sentenced to three years in prison, the Justice Department said.

Darrel R. Rinehart, 66, of Indianapolis, Indiana, admitted to distributing controlled substances, primarily opioids, to four different patients without a legitimate medical purpose 18 times between December 2014 and December 2015, the agency said. Rinehart also admitted to distributing hydrocodone in January 2016 to a patient who did not have health issues justifying the prescription, the statement said.

Rinehart, who ran a clinic in Columbia for decades, was indicted in 2019 on 19 counts of distributing a controlled substance, The Tennessean reported.

A joint investigation by The Tennessean and The Indianapolis Star brought the case to the attention of the U.S. Attorney's Office, which stepped in to investigate.

At least five of Rinehart's patients suffered fatal overdoses that were at least partially blamed on drugs he prescribed between March 2015 and January 2016, the newspapers reported, citing public records.

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