An Abingdon federal judge has decided not to impose prison time for a dentist who wrote phony prescriptions for nearly a decade to feed his own drug habit.
The decision by Chief U.S. District Judge James Jones provides hope for turning what one writer called a “harrowing story of addiction” to a tale of redemption for Dr. Peter Francisco, 58, of Tazewell. Francisco acknowledged taking as many as eight hydrocodone pills a day. He wrote prescriptions to others to get the drug.
According to Jones’ opinion, Francisco has completed a 12-week treatment program and is allowed to practice under a five-year monitoring program. “[T]he defendant has clearly recognized his addiction and taken exemplary steps to combat it,” Jones wrote, imposing a sentence of three years probation, a $10,000 fine, and 400 hours of community service.
Francisco could have been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison with his November plea agreement.
By Peter Vieth