Crime & Courts

NC doctor who traded drugs for sex with patients receives prison sentence

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Actress Alyssa Milano got an idea from a friend of a friend on Facebook to elevate the Harvey Weinstein conversation. She took the idea to Twitter, posting: "If you've been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet." T

A former North Carolina doctor who admitted giving powerful prescription drugs to female patients in exchange for sex was sentenced on Thursday to three years in federal prison.

Dr. Michael Alson Smith traded drugs for sex with at least seven patients at his now-closed Mt. Holly Family Practice in 2017, according to court documents filed by federal prosecutors in 2018, The Charlotte Observer reported at the time.

Smith billed Medicaid and Medicare for reimbursement for patient visits during which only sex occurred, according to federal court records. The patients also submitted false claims to the government for the cost of the drugs, according to court documents.

Smith agreed last year to plead guilty to illegal drug distribution, health care fraud and aggravated identity theft. The charges carry a maximum combined penalty of more than 20 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.

In U.S. District Court in Charlotte on Thursday, Smith was ordered to serve two years of court-supervised release after serving his sentence, a U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman said in an email to the Observer. He also was ordered to pay $3,562 in restitution, she said.

In 2017, the North Carolina Medical Board revoked Smith’s license to practice after he acknowledged sex acts against two female patients, the Observer reported at the time.

Smith signed a consent order with the board in which he admitted having non-consensual sexual intercourse with one of the patients in an exam room at his practice, the Observer reported. He acknowledged a sex act against the other patient.

Smith also acknowledged a sex act against a second patient in 2017 , the Observer reported. The incidents occurred during the patients’ regular office visits, according to the consent order. The incidents occurred during the patients’ regular office visits, medical board officials said in the consent order.

Smith treated many patients for pain management and substance abuse after he got federal approval for an opioid-treatment program at his practice, federal court documents show.

He traded sex for drugs from January 2017 until October of that year, according to court records.

In one case, Smith made a woman being treated for opiate addiction have sex with him in an exam room while the woman’s 3-year-old daughter was present, documents in U.S. District Court in Charlotte show.

Smith then upped the woman’s dosage of the powerful sedative Clonazepam, according to federal records.

On a subsequent visit, with her 3-month-old son in the exam room, the woman was forced to perform sex acts with Smith, court documents show. The doctor then gave her new prescriptions for Clonazepam and Buprenorphine HCL, also used to treat opiate addiction.

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.

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