Trial for Virginia doctor accused of running pill mill starts today

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A Virginia doctor accused of running an illegal pill mill is headed to trial.

Joel Smithers, who lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, is charged with illegally prescribing thousands of doses of potent and addictive painkillers from his medical practice in Martinsville, Virginia.

A federal judge last week refused to appoint a new defense attorney for Smithers or to postpone the trial, which starts today in Abingdon.

The judge noted that Smithers repeatedly has admitted that he has not traveled to Virginia to review materials disclosed by prosecutors or to meet with his attorney.

Smithers is charged in an 862-count indictment with possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, maintaining a place for unlawfully distributing controlled substances, and dispensing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose.

Smithers has maintained his innocence.

In November, 2018, the DEA issued a notice saying Smithers had to state authority to handle controlled substances

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