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Press Release

Two Spokane Men Sentenced for Their Roles in Unlawfully Distributing Opioids

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington
Dentist Sentenced to 15-Months Home Confinement and Surrenders DEA Certificate of Registration

Spokane – William D. Hyslop, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Dr. James Stein-Sheridan Shelby, age 50, of Spokane, Washington, and Timothy James Felch, age 36, also of Spokane, Washington, were sentenced after having pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute opioid pain medications, hydrocodone and tramadol, without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice. Dr. Shelby also pleaded guilty to three separate counts of distributing hydrocodone without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice. Senior United States District Judge Lonny R. Suko sentenced Shelby to a 15-month term of home confinement, to be followed by a three-year term of probation. Shelby also surrendered his DEA Certificate of Registration and is no longer authorized to prescribe controlled substances. Senior United States District Judge Lonny R. Suko sentenced Felch to a 13-month term of imprisonment, to be followed by a three-year term of court supervision.

According to court documents and information disclosed during the court proceedings, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Tactical Diversion Squad, and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), Office of the Inspector General (OIG), initiated a criminal investigation of Dr. Shelby, a dentist, after receiving information that he was distributing hydrocodone and tramadol, without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice to an individual identified as M.B. In April 2018, DEA and HHS OIG executed a warrant to search Shelby’s clinic, Indian Trail Dental Care. When interviewed by federal agents, Shelby immediately indicated he knew DEA agents were at his clinic because of his prescribing to M.B. Shelby stated he initially performed extensive dental work on M.B. and prescribed her hydrocodone when she complained of pain in the lower left side of her jaw with a lump. Shelby stated that he eventually became involved in an inappropriate relationship with M.B. and she became addicted to hydrocodone. Shelby also stated that it had been several years since M.B. had been a regular patient and he was ultimately responsible for the prescriptions. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Shelby used Felch and others by issuing numerous prescriptions in Felch’s name and in the names of others as a mechanism to provide M.B. with additional amounts of hydrocodone and tramadol.

United States Attorney Hyslop said, “The sentence imposed today holds Dr. Shelby and Mr. Felch accountable for illegally prescribing and distributing opioids. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington is committed to prosecuting medical professionals who may prescribe pain medications to individuals for no legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice. I commend the DEA and HHS-OIG agents who investigated this case.”

This investigation was conducted by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Department of Health & Human Services, Office of the Inspector General. This case was prosecuted by George J.C. Jacobs, III, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

Updated July 23, 2019

Topic
Opioids
Press Release Number: 18-CR-00102-LRS