Woman gets 33 years for illegal distribution of pain pills

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A woman convicted of running clinics in East Tennessee that illegally distributed more than 11 million prescription opioid pills has been sentenced to more than 33 years in prison, federal officials said.

U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan ordered the sentence Wednesday for Sylvia Hofstetter, 56, after a jury convicted her earlier this year of racketeering conspiracy, drug conspiracy, money laundering, and maintaining a building where drugs are involved, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement. Varlan also ordered Hofstetter to forfeit $3.6 million.

The drug conspiracy involved four clinics in the Knoxville area, where millions of tablets of oxycodone, oxymorphone and morphine generated more than $21 million of clinic revenue, with a corresponding street value of $360 million, prosecutors said. All three drugs are opioids, a class of drugs linked to more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000.

“The Eastern District of Tennessee remains at the forefront in the battle against illegal pain clinics and the mass-prescribing of opioids,” said U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey said in the statement. "Let this sentencing serve as a deterrent for those who seek to profit from fueling a tragic cycle of addiction and pain killer abuse.”