Smithers Family Defense
March 7th 2017 was a dark, painful day in my family’s life. My wife, our four young children, my patients and staff at The Center for Integrative Health, had little idea it would only be the beginning of a very long, exhausting struggle to come.
That cloudy Spring Tuesday in March the DEA (Federal Drug Enforcement Agency) under guidance from the DOJ (Department of Justice) conducted simultaneous, well-coordinated, armed raids (guns drawn) of both our home and medical practice. My wife, Angel, was at home with our four kids, Ethan (12), Seth (9), Aylianna (2), and Brielle our newborn.
We are now pregnant with #5.
She started her day as usual. All the kids had been taking turns being sick, and she was busy getting the kids’ homeschooling day situated. My family was held against their will in a small front room of our home for more than six hours without food or water while the Federal DEA agents roamed freely throughout our house ransacking, searching, and occasionally destroying items to gain access even though we cooperated consistently. We even gave access to our iPhones with our thumb prints every time the agents requested as their electronic equipment began ripping all the contents from the devices. Despite this our twelve old son, Ethan, offered them water while everyone remained calm, in shock mostly, and respectful.
I was at my office and had started seeing patients that morning when a member of my staff urgently interrupted my meeting with a patient to inform me that two DEA agents had arrived stating they wanted to speak with me and had been taken to our staff break room/kitchen where we could meet. I spent the next two hours or more answering their questions and in some ways being interrogated by them. Hoping they would leave knowing all their questions were thoroughly answered to the best of my ability, demonstrating my transparency, they would return my honesty with professional courtesy by letting me know what their true purpose was. They did not.
DEA agents returned, guns drawn, storming through my lobby about 10 minutes after leaving, and they proceeded to flood my office with over 40 agents, separating my staff individually into different rooms to be interrogated. They yelled at my patients in the lobby, corralling them. They immediately sequestered me in my office to search me personally. Then they led me back to the break room kitchen area for what would be another several hours of sporadic interrogations throughout the day. They spent over 12 hours at my office. During that time, the same level of cooperation and courtesy my family was providing the agents ransacking our home, was provided by my staff and myself. At one point my wife and I were allowed to speak for a few brief moments over the supervising DEA agent’s mobile phone. That was when I learned for the first time that my home was also being raided.
“What great crime or great criminal operation was the cause for all this?” you may ask yourself. There were no arrests that day. There were no indictments or criminal complaints prior to these raids, these abrupt, traumatic, violent intrusions into the lives of my patients, my staff, and my family. They were simply based on warrants, signed in secret by unelected federal judges, at the request of eager DOJ attorneys looking for their next scalp or trophy of a physician persecuted and incarcerated during our government’s highly politicized war on drugs. Physicians are now the highest prize target in the federal government’s ongoing war against the opiate crisis. This was not the case several years ago when the highest priority targets were the actual criminals in Mexico, Central and South America, China, and other places the DEA spends its best time and resources investigating and stopping the devastating street drugs that continue to pour into our country even today. Many of us in America now know what it means to live in fear, for trusting your patients and trying to uphold your oath “to do no harm,” while also helping your patients in every ethical way possible.
It is the misapplication of law. The twisting of the narrative and facts. The misuse of the DEA/DOJ to interfere in what was once considered a sacred relationship between a doctor and a patient. The sanctity of this relationship is now being destroyed by this malicious, unwarranted, witch hunt. There used to be three such sacred relationships in this country (four if you include marriage). The three outside of marriage would be between a person and their minister, a person and their attorney, and a person and their physician. We Americans have gradually and in many cases abruptly lost access to care for some of our most devastating diseases over the past few years. Especially if your disease relates to you suffering from severe chronic pain. That is the diagnosis of folks who I, Dr. Smithers, treated, less than 150 patients per month. The federal government intrusion into the practice of medicine, and thereby the disruption of the doctor/patient relationship, now jeopardizes ALL patients and ALL physicians everywhere, because you never know when care will be denied to you. Whether in the emergency room, the doctor’s office, or the urgent care, because of the inscrutable, almost unbearable pressure on medical providers who fear the government and it’s powerful enforcement mechanisms.
And this is a Hail Mary, an 11th hour and 59 seconds attempt, a less than one second on the clock final push to raise funds for the defense of myself, my legal defense, and for my family. Over the past two years we have become indigent, our family continues to be on food stamps for over a year while I work many jobs. With an issue like this hanging over my head we are barely surviving financially, and my wife has even been working part-time while homeschooling these many weeks. We continue to trust God and His wisdom in this situation. We continue to homeschool and try to provide as many meaningful learning opportunities for our kids as possible. Quality family time is rare due to the amount I must work for our family to survive, all while facing the possibility of a life sentence, if I and my court-appointed attorney fail at trial.
Any assistance would be greatly appreciated! Updates to our situation will be available on this page as the case progresses. Thank you for any support you are able to provide at this time or in the future. May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ richly bless you.
The Smithers Family
Joel, Angel, Ethan, Seth, Aylianna, Brielle
April 30, 2019
We got through jury selection and pretrial motions today. We will begin tomorrow morning with opening statements and then the government will start its case by calling its first witness. It’s almost surreal being here and going through this...
Thank you so very much for your prayers!!
- J. Skorupski (07866, New Jersey)
- B. Taber (Yucaipa, California)
- A. Martindale (Franklin, Kentucky)
- A. Lowthet (Calgary, Alberta)
- K. Thotnton (Nathalie , Virginia)
- G. Buehler (Klamath Falls, Oregon)
- C. Furr (Charlotte, North Carolina)
- B. Percell (Las Vegas, Nevada)
- P. Scanlan (Marietta, Georgia)