SALT LAKE CITY — The government has sided with a U.S. District Court judge in an order to put a convicted Brigham City pill doctor behind bars sooner, rather than later.

After being found guilty of 37 counts of illegally dispensing painkillers, including twice prescribing drugs that led to the death of an Ogden man, 64-year-old Dewey MacKay was hoping to stay out of prison pending his appeal filed with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In January, a federal Judge Dee Benson handed down a minimum mandatory sentence, ordering MacKay to spend 20 years in jail. Benson denied MacKay's initial appeal to put off reporting to prison.

The U.S. Attorney for Utah filed a brief Thursday with the appeals court in support of Benson's ruling.

MacKay was expected to report to prison on Feb. 1. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, MacKay remains "in transit" to a federal facility.

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MacKay has been said to be suffering from several health issues, including diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, coronary artery disease and gout, according to his attorney Peter Stirba. Stirba had announced his client's intent to appeal the conviction and resulting prison sentence in August.

Last month, a retired MacKay surrendered his medical license, as well as a DEA-issued license to dispense controlled substances. Both licenses were set to expire at the end of January. MacKay practiced orthopedic medicine from 1981 to 2007 at a clinic in Brigham City.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said an expedited review of MacKay's appeal is anticipated.

Wendy Leonard Twitter: wendyleonards