FERNDALE (WWJ) – A local doctor accused of writing illegal prescriptions for narcotic pain killers could spend up to 20 years behind bars.

Dr. Joel Milliner, 45, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of distributing controlled substances outside the course of legitimate medicine.

Prosecutors say over the course of several months, Milliner wrote prescriptions for Opana, Oxycontin, and Roxicodone that he knew would be diverted for illicit purposes. In court, Milliner admitted that he also knew the individuals receiving the unnecessary prescriptions would be reimbursed by Medicare.

“Diversion of prescription drugs causes significant harm,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement. “The number of fatal overdoses from prescription drugs in the United States last year was more than six times the number of fatal overdoses from all other illegal drugs combined.”

Milliner, who operated a general practice clinic in Ferndale, is due back in court for sentencing on July 9.

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