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'Drug dealer with an advanced degree' | Judge sentences Scott Co. doctor to 40 months in prison

Dr. David Bruce Coffey also faces a $500,000 fine and two years of supervised release.

SCOTT COUNTY, Tenn. — The Scott County doctor accused of writing prescriptions that eventually ended up in the hands of drug dealers was sentenced to 40 months in prison, a $500,000 fine and two years of supervised release in federal court on Monday, Oct. 3. 

“He was a drug dealer with an advanced degree,” U.S. District Judge Katherine Crytzer said.

The Drug Enforcement Agency said Dr. David Bruce Coffey prescribed nearly 5 million pills in eight years, about 1,600 pills per day at a clinic in Oneida, and made over $18 million from private and government insurance. Many of the prescriptions he wrote at his clinic were filled at the pharmacy he co-owned next door, a sworn affidavit said. 

"He committed a serious crime with potentially deadly consequences," Judge Crytzer said in issuing her sentence. "For six years, Mr. Coffey contributed to the opioid epidemic." 

The DEA also said Coffey’s Scott County clinic was the primary supplier for drug trafficking organizations in three southeastern Kentucky counties.

Coffey's lawyer, Greg Isaacs, told the court Coffey was one of the only physicians in Scott County, dedicated to serving his community. 

Isaacs said as soon as Coffey realized he made a mistake, he tried to fix it. Isaacs told the court Coffey wired his home and made recordings to help prosecutors with other cases they pursued.

In April 2022, Coffey formally entered a guilty plea at the Howard Baker Federal Courthouse in Knoxville to two charges – one for illegally distributing 60 oxycodone pills and another for depositing funds he made from the drug trafficking.

Coffey's charges came with a maximum 20-year sentence in prison. However, because of his cooperation with authorities and his guilty plea, prosecutors asked for a reduction, which Judge Crytzer granted. 

"We're pleased generally with the way this hearing turned out," Isaacs said. 

His Oneida clinic burned to the ground in January 2020, weeks after the details of the DEA's allegations against him became public. Coffey's physician's license expired in October 2021, records show. His clinic announced in July 2020 that it would permanently close the following month.

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