SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday a Savannah doctor will spend the next 20 years behind bars.

Dr. Frank H. Bynes Jr., 69, of Savannah, was sentenced to 240 months in federal prison and ordered to pay over $600,000 in restitution.

Bynes was found guilty in October 2019 by a federal jury on 13 counts of Unlawful Dispensation of Controlled Substances and three counts of Health Care Fraud.

Investigators say Bynes operated a “pill mill” dispensing massive amounts of controlled substances, sometimes in return for cash or sex. Prosecutors say Bynes was preying on patients, fueling the opioid epidemic.

“It makes me kind of angry, actually, because it erodes the public trust in physicians and it is obviously an unhealthy practice,” said Andrew Ross, an Emergency Medicine Attending Physician at Memorial Health.

Many of the prescriptions were part of the so-called “holy trinity” drug cocktail of opioids, alprazolam and Soma, and were provided to patients who Bynes knew were drug-addicted. According to evidence introduced at trial, Bynes prescribed the deadly drug cocktail to Medicare patients at a higher rate than any other physician in the United States.

Officials say Bynes worked at the MBA Community Clinic in Savannah and at Georgia Laboratory Diagnostic in Garden City, where he wrote prescriptions for more than 1,800 patients.

“Most of the time, these people are in the prime of their life. They are young people, and it’s unexpected. To have to tell their loved ones they passed away unexpectedly like that, it’s extremely hard. It’s the hardest part of the job,” said Ross.

Investigators say over 51-thousand pharmacy fills were attributed to Bynes during a three-year period in Georgia alone, totaling in excess of 4.6 million doses of pills, opioid patches and other controlled substances.

The Department of Justice says Bynes also intimidated patients by claiming he worked for the Department of Justice and displayed a fake police badge. 

Investigators say Bynes also exploited female patients and coerced them into providing sexual favors in exchange for prescriptions.