ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) — Dr. Ralph Thomas Reach, the former owner of several area addiction recovery centers that Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents raided five years ago, was sentenced to six months in federal prison Wednesday.

Reach, 63, pleaded guilty in March to three counts of causing drugs to be misbranded according to a news release from the Western District of Virginia U.S. Attorney’s Office. His sentence also includes 18 months of house arrest, five years probation and a combined $150,000 in fines and forfeitures.

He was also charged with “inducing various quantities” of Subutex, Suboxone and several other drugs “to be dispensed without valid prescriptions by the actions of health care providers at Watauga Recovery Centers.”

Subutex and Suboxone both contain buprenorphine, an opioid that is used to treat addiction to stronger opioids such as heroin, oxycontin and fentanyl in a method known as medication assisted treatment (MAT).

The news release says Reach, and other medical providers prescribed buprenorphine, clonazepam, gabapentin and other drugs at clinics in Virginia and Tennessee.

“The prescriptions at issue were not valid because they were dispensed without a legitimate medical purpose and beyond the bounds of professional practice,” the release states.

Dr. Ralph Thomas Reach speaks to WJHL after agents searched his recovery centers in 2018. (WJHL photo)

“Buprenorphine, when properly prescribed, is an important tool in battling the opioid crisis,” said Special Agent in Charge George A. Scavdis, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Metro Washington Field Office.

“Medical professionals who abuse their access to and power to prescribe these drugs put profits over patients. Our office will continue to pursue and bring to justice those involved in the illegal prescribing and distribution of these drugs.”

U.S. Attorney Chris Kavanaugh’s office prosecuted the case and Kavanaugh said opioid poisoning continues to be a leading cause of death for Virginians of all ages.

“When doctors add to this mounting problem by overprescribing these powerful drugs, they must be held accountable, and we will continue to do exactly that,” Kavanaugh said in the release.

Multiple agencies across two states and the federal government assisted in the case, which had already led to six other convictions of employees and others associated with Watauga Recovery Centers. It also has resulted in nearly $10 million in fines, forfeitures and restitution.

When federal agents raided nine of his recovery centers in May 2018, Reach told News Channel 11 he stood behind his Watauga’s practices and said “we know we will be completely exonerated in this issue.”

He said at the time that if the center’s patients were unable to get care, “the chances of them going back out and using street drugs, and using heroin and fentanyl, they could die from this.”

ReVIDA Recovery Centers purchased the Johnson City Watauga center in 2019 and still has multiple MAT clinics in the region.