Sammye A. Belcher, a 52-year-old District of Cloumbia physician, was sentenced to a six-month prison term and fined $10,000 yesterday for her role in selling prescriptions -- many of them to drug addicts -- for the painkilling drug Dilaudid.
Although Belcher had earlier pleaded guilty to only one charge of illegal distribution of Dilaudid, Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas J. Behr said in a legal brief that she wrote more than 1,500 prescriptions for the drug between April 1 and Sept. 30 last year that had a "street value" of more than $2 million.
In all, Belcher prescribed 62,778 Dilaudid pills, which often sell for $35 apiece on the street, Behr said.
In imposing the sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas A. Flannery told Belcher that he hated to send "any professional person" to jail, but added, "I have a duty to do so.
"This sentence will serve as a deterrent hopefully to other people who may be inclined to perform this type of criminal activity," the judge said.
Belcher, who was convicted in 1973 of failing to keep records about the methadone she was distributing to addicts, often conducted cursory examinations, or none at all, before prescribing the Dilaudid, according to Behr's presentencing memorandum.
The "patients" then paid up to $150 for the prescriptions, usually to Belcher's stepson, Ernest L. Raysor, who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to two drug violations in connection with the scheme.