ROGERS COUNTY, Oklahoma - A federal judge sentenced a former Claremore surgeon to five months behind bars for using his patients to get his hands on the powerful painkiller, hydrocodone.

Jeremy Thomas pleaded guilty last November, admitting to writing prescriptions for hydrocodone to several of his patients, just so they could return the opioids to him.

"We feel like physicians are at the helm of the gate to protect or to abuse," U.S. Attorney Joel-Lyn McCormick said.

A federal judge sentenced Thomas to five months in prison, plus eight months of house arrest. U.S. Attorney Joel-Lyn McCormick said it's a far cry from the three-year sentence she was hoping for.

"We respectfully disagree with the sentence that was imposed."

The U.S. Attorney's office said Dr. Thomas diverted close more than 13,000 doses of the drug in a two year period, most for his own personal use. But it affected his patients, too. McCormick said several of them are now also addicted to the drug.

"In this case, it's a prime example of a defendant who impacted five other individuals who were under his medical care," she said.

Prosecutors said Thomas performed surgery while under the influence of the painkillers.

Thomas apologized to every single of his patients and their families. He said he's learned a lot about the dangers of addiction in the last 18 months. Things he says he wished he'd learned in medical school. Thomas went to rehab after learning of the investigation.

"We believe the judge was fair," Thomas' attorney, Bob Wyatt, said. "He treated everyone fair, he considered the evidence. We appreciate, and the family appreciates, what he was willing to consider."

The judge is giving Thomas credit for the four or so months he's already spent in the Creek County Jail, so he'll be released in a few weeks.