CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A federal judge sentenced a Mingo County doctor to six months in prison Tuesday for illegally providing prescription medication to patients she never examined.
Diane E. Shafer, 60, also will pay a $5,000 fine, U.S. District Judge John C. Copenhaver ruled.
In May, Shafer pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to misuse her Drug Enforcement Administration registration number. The plea came as a result of a federal probe that examined Shafer's doling out of more than 118,000 prescriptions since 2003.
Lisa K. Baisden, one of Shafer's office workers, pleaded guilty in 2010 to handing out prescriptions pre-signed by Shafer in exchange for pills. Baisden was given three years' probation.
Dwane Tinsley, Shafer's lawyer, asked Copenhaver to place Shafer on probation so she could care for her 81-year-old mother. Shafer has been the sole caregiver for the woman since December 2009. Shafer also presented a number of letters to the court praising her for her civic duty and for her help to patients.
"Dr. Shafer truly cared for her patients," Tinsley said. "She treated a lot of people for free."
Tinsley said Shafer should have kept better records and run a tighter medical practice, but characterized her crime as an "administrative failure" rather than a medical one.
"She was more concerned with her patients than with the running of her office," he said.
A tearful Shafer told the judge she was sorry, and asked for probation to care for her mother and make up for her crime.
"I would ask the court to somehow allow me to return something to the community through probation and community service," she said.