First Life Sentence in Kentucky in an Overdose Death Case Involving Prescription Drugs
LONDON — A federal judge has sentenced a Clay County man to life in prison for illegally distributing prescription drugs that caused the death of another person.
On Thursday, July 23, 2015, U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell sentenced Terry Smith, 55, for distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death. Because of Smith’s criminal history, he received a mandatory life sentence under federal law. Smith has prior felony convictions for robbery in the first degree, for which he was sentenced to 20 years and later paroled, and possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, for which he received a probated sentence.
Judge Caldwell also sentenced Smith to 360 months for conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and 120 months for possession of firearms by a convicted felon. Both sentences will run concurrently with the life sentence. Smith’s wife, Gerry,53, received 90 months in prison for conspiring with her husband and others to distribute oxycodone.
This case marks the first time in Kentucky that a life sentence was imposed in an overdose death case involving prescription drugs.
“Mr. Smith operated a drug trafficking organization which brought large quantities of narcotics into Kentucky from other states, causing immeasurable harm to many of our communities. Ultimately, his criminal conduct caused the death of one of those he callously exploited,” said Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “We do not take sentences of this magnitude lightly. It is clear, however, that Mr. Smith’s long history of serious criminal conduct coupled with the deadly consequences of his large scale drug trafficking scheme merits the sentence imposed by the Court and required by federal law.”
In January, a jury convicted Smith of the charges, following a five day trial. Evidence at the trial established that on September 9, 2011, Smith had sponsored Patty Smallwood and others to travel to an out-of-state pain clinic, called Georgia Health Associates, in Tucker, Ga., to obtain oxycodone pills. Upon their return, Smith paid for them to fill these prescriptions at the Community Drug Pharmacy, in Manchester, Ky. These individuals then gave the pills to Smith, who kept a portion for himself and divided the rest among the people who made the trip.
The evidence then showed that Smallwood took a portion of her pills that night. She later went to bed and never woke up. Smallwood was found dead the following morning by her boyfriend. Although an autopsy was not performed, toxicology reports reflected that, along with smaller levels of several other drugs, Smallwood had four times the therapeutic level of oxycodone in her system. A toxicologist testified that the oxycodone use was the likely cause of her death.
This case also marks the first time in the Eastern District of Kentucky that a conviction was obtained in an overdose death case, without an autopsy report being used as evidence.
U.S. Attorney Harvey and Joseph P. Reagan, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), jointly announced the sentence.
The investigation was conducted by the DEA. Assistant U.S. Attorney W. Samuel Dotson prosecuted this case on behalf of the federal government.
Pictured is Terry Smith - Photo courtesy of the Laurel County Detention Facility