Attorney General Pleased With Doctor's Life Sentence

Dr. Thomas Merrill of Panama City was convicted in federal court on charges of wire fraud, health care fraud and distribution of controlled substances.

Attorney General Charlie Crist says the 70-year-old doctor was handing out thousands of prescriptions to people who were using the drugs for recreational purposes, including five who died of an overdose.

Charlie Crist said, "He was sentenced to life. I believe that was a very good sentence handed down by the court. I applaud that effort. This kind of activity cannot be tolerated, and will not be in Florida."

Merrill was convicted in federal court of 98 different fraud and drug charges.

Investigators say he prescribed excessive quantities of controlled substances and knew that many of his patients were “doctor shopping” in order to get more drugs.