Memphis psychiatrist arrested as part of federal opioid crackdown sentenced to 4 years in prison
By Corinne S Kennedy
October 30, 2020
Memphis Psychiatrist Richard Farmer
A Memphis psychiatrist was sentenced to four years in prison and three years of supervised release for unlawfully distributing opioids.
Richard Farmer, 83, was found guilty earlier this year for three counts of distribution of controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee D. Michael Dunavant’s office announced the sentencing Friday and Dunavant called opioid abuse “an insidious epidemic created in large part by the over-prescribing and diversion of potent opioids.”
“This sentence demonstrates our ability and resolve to aggressively prosecute and hold accountable any medical personnel who misuse their positions of trust to exploit the very people coming to them for help,” he said in a news release.
Farmer, who had a practice in East Memphis, was charged in 2019 as part of the first Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force Takedown. His conviction was the first guilty trial verdict for the strike force.
Evidence presented at his trial showed that between July 2016 and January 2019, Farmer prescribed over 1,200 pills to three sisters he had ongoing sexual contact with. Farmer kept limited patient files for the three women also prescribed opioids to friends of the three women without requiring medical evaluations.
Special Agent in Charge Todd Scott of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Louisville Division said the DEA was committed to prosecuting doctors who “exploit the week and put greed above patient care.”
“Doctors who prey on those who suffer from the disease of addiction are no better than street-corner drug dealers,” he said.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said the department was “committed to ensuring that physicians who abuse their power to promote and prolong drug addiction for their own benefit are punished accordingly.”