BENTON, Ill. (AP) – A southern Illinois dentist faces up to 20 years in federal prison now that he’s admitted to defrauding Medicaid and illegally distributing a prescription painkiller.

Sixty-year-old Walter Dawkins of Mount Vernon pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Benton to fraud involving a health-care program and to unlawfully distributing the controlled substance hydrocodone.

Federal prosecutors say the offenses involved prescriptions written outside the course of Dawkins’ medical practice.

Each felony count is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Dawkins’ sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 21.

© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed


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