FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A third doctor was sentenced to four years in federal prison for one count of “distribution of a controlled substance without an effective prescription,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Arkansas announced on June 9, 2021.
Donald E. Hinderliter, 85, of Fort Smith, pleaded guilty to the felony. The controlled substance was namely alprazolam, a tranquilizer used to treat anxiety, among other drugs.
According to court documents, Hinderliter, owner of Hinderliter Pain Clinic in Barling, was operating a pill mill. He and his associate, Dr. Cecil W. Gaby, 71, would prescribe “hydrocodone and benzodiazepines” and get paid in cash. Investigators said the doctors prescribed the drugs between January 2016 to November 2018.
The doctors would prescribe the same amount of the drugs regardless of a patient’s prognosis or need. Patients also traveled long distances within Arkansas and surrounding states, to get large quantities of oxycodone, hydrocodone, alprazolam, methadone, and other drugs, per court documents.
Hinderliter admitted, as part of the plea, that he prescribed the drugs to more than 150 people, “often not for a legitimate medical purpose and not in the usual course of professional practice,” according to court documents.
The other doctors, one [Gaby] from Fort Smith and the other from Rogers were sentenced to federal prison on one count each of “distribution of a controlled substance without an effective prescription” last month.
On May 27, 2021, Dr. Gaby was sentenced to 10 years for his role in the Fort Smith Hinderliter Pain Clinic/Gaby Medical Clinic drug distribution scheme. On the same date, Dr. Robin Cox, 64, was sentenced to three years for distribution of opioid medications outside legitimate medical practice at an unrelated clinic in Rogers, Arkansas, according to a Department of Justice release.