Former Gaston Co. doctor accused of trading pills for sex could escape decades in prison

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — A former Gaston County doctor will likely escape decades behind bars after pleading guilty to offering women painkillers in return for sex.

Michael Smith, a former doctor with what was Mt. Holly Family Practice, was quiet in court Friday. Smith cut a deal with federal prosecutors and agreed to spend three years in prison, pending the judge’s approval. He faced a maximum sentence of 22 years.

Channel 9 has been following this story extensively. In Aug. 2017 federal agents said Smith offered painkillers to at least three women if they had sex with him. In one case, they said the patient had a child with her in the room on two different occasions. Smith received payment for their visits through Medicaid and Medicare.

Channel 9’s Blaine Tolison asked Smith outside of court, "Do you feel bad at all about this?" Smith didn't answer. Smith also remained silent when Tolison asked, "We have an opioid crisis in this state and in our country right now. Do you feel bad you contributed to that problem?"

The victims weren't in federal court today, but attorneys did mention a civil case and described it as a settlement.

Smith pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to prescribing drugs to patients who didn't need them, defrauding Medicaid and identity theft for unlawfully using patients' personal information to make claims. As part of the deal Smith, who has already surrendered his medical license, must also forfeit certain assets and cannot appeal his case.

The judge will review the sentence, and Smith is free with certain conditions until his sentencing date. That date hasn’t been set.

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