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Thursday, August 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane dentist sentenced to home confinement after improperly prescribing thousands of opioid pills

UPDATED: Mon., July 22, 2019, 9:31 p.m.

Spokane dentist, Dr. James Stein-Sheridan Shelby, shown here in 2017, was sentenced Monday to 15 months of home confinement after federal investigators alleged that improperly prescribed thousands of pain medications (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane dentist, Dr. James Stein-Sheridan Shelby, shown here in 2017, was sentenced Monday to 15 months of home confinement after federal investigators alleged that improperly prescribed thousands of pain medications (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A longtime Spokane dentist, who originally was facing years in federal prison, was sentenced Monday to 15 months of home confinement and three years probation.

Federal investigators in 2018 charged Dr. James Stein-Sheridan Shelby as part of a 31-count indictment alleging that he took part in a conspiracy and distributed prescription drugs during a three-year period ending in 2017.

According to the indictment, Shelby wrote 221 prescriptions to someone identified only as “M.B.” Those prescriptions totaled 12,406 tablets of hydrocodone, which is sold under the names Vicodin and Norco. He also prescribed the same person 63 prescriptions that contained 5,252 tablets of Tramadol, a synthetic opioid drug, which is commonly sold under the name Ultram.

Starting in December 2015, Shelby issued 41 prescriptions “for the use by M.B. but in the name Defendant Felch” that totaled 2,116 tablets of hydrocodone. And then starting in December 2016 through October 2017, Shelby issued prescriptions for use by “M.B.” but in the names of two other individuals, identified only as “L.J.” and “D.B.” Those prescriptions included another 242 tablets of hydrocodone and 75 tablets of Tramadol, according to the indictment.

Then earlier this year, Shelby pleaded guilty to manipulating pain-killer prescriptions and distributing drugs to a former patient with whom he was having an “inappropriate relationship” for years.

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Lonny Suko sentenced Shelby, 50, to home confinement and sentenced co-defendant, Timothy J. Felch, 36, to 13 months in federal prison.

As part of his sentence, Shelby is no longer authorized to prescribe controlled substances.

Newly installed U.S. Attorney William Hyslop praised federal agents who investigated the case.

“The sentence imposed today holds Dr. Shelby and Mr. Felch accountable for illegally prescribing and distributing opioids,” Hyslop said in a news release.

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