- Associated Press - Thursday, October 30, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A former doctor who pleaded guilty to distributing pain medication without a legitimate medical purpose was sentenced on Thursday to one year and one day in prison.

Federal investigators allege Terry Dragash worked from 2001 through 2011 at a Columbus medical clinic where he and other doctors were required to see 50 to 100 patients a day.

Many patients treated at Columbus Southern Medical Clinic were drug addicts traveling long distances just to get pain pills to feed their addictions, according to court documents.

Dragash “ignored obvious signs that patients were drug seekers and continued to prescribe prescription pain medications placing the physical welfare of these patients at risk,” assistant U.S. attorney Kenneth Affeldt said in a court filing last month.

Prosecutors had asked for a two year-sentence. Instead, federal judge Gregory Frost handed down the one-year sentence along with two years of supervision after release. The judge also ordered Dragash, 59, to undergo drug abuse treatment in prison, which Dragash’s attorney had requested.

Dragash had a history of alcohol and cocaine abuse and frequently saw patients while he was under the influence of cocaine, Affeldt said.

Dragash, of suburban Columbus, pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. He is no longer licensed to practice medicine, according to the Ohio State Medical Board.

His attorney, Isabella Dixon, has said his cocaine addiction caused a downward spiral professionally and personally. Dragash, who is gay, became addicted as he struggled with the impact of coming out several years ago, Dixon said Thursday.

“At one point he didn’t have the support of his family,” she said. “Unfortunately, he became addicted to cocaine, but for all that, this is a caring individual. He’s very remorseful for what he did.”

Dragash hopes to become a drug counselor when he’s released, Dixon said.

She noted in a court filing Tuesday that Dragash had recently been diagnosed with ALS, sometimes known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

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