Prescription Pill Pipeline Leader Receives 15 Year Prison Term
Ten other Ohio co-conspirators already sentenced
COLUMBUS, OH - Christopher Thompson, 35, of Galloway was sentenced to 181 months in prison for directing a conspiracy involving 15 other people who travelled from Ohio to Florida, obtained and filled prescriptions for oxycodone and other drugs, and sent the pills back to central Ohio for illegal distribution.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Robert L. Corso, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Detroit Field (DEA), and Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott announced the sentence handed down today by Senior U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus.
Thompson pleaded guilty in May 2011 to one count of possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. His sentence includes 121 months on the possession charge and 60 months for the gun charge. The sentences will run consecutively.
Fifteen people in addition to Thompson were indicted in May on charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics. All have pleaded guilty before Senior U.S. District Judge James L. Graham. In court documents, Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah A. Solove said the conspirators were responsible for bringing approximately $800,000 worth of oxycodone to Ohio in 15 months. The pills ranged from 15 to 80 milligrams however the majority of the pills were 30-milligram oxycodone tablets.
Thompson paid for all conspirators’ travel expenses, doctors’ office fees and pharmacy fees. In return, these individuals turned their pills over to Thompson who would pay the individuals in cash or oxycodone for making the trip. Generally, these sponsored individuals traveled in groups, stayed in the same hotels, and visited doctors and pharmacies as a group. After filling their prescriptions, the medication would be placed into a safe in their hotel room. Once enough pills were obtained, the pills would be mailed back to Thompson.
Sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant at Thompson’s Galloway residence in January and seized approximately 14,000 prescription medication pills which included more than 2,000 oxycodone pills, nine firearms including two stolen guns, more than $86,000 in cash and empty prescription bottles. One of the firearms was an AR-15 with a 100-round magazine. It was sitting near a safe containing the pills and currency.
Ten other individuals have been sentenced. They are:
Richard E. Clark Jr., 25, Pickerington, 84 months in prison.
Monty L. Shelton, 48, Columbus, 84 months.
John P. Hike Jr., 38, Columbus, 72 months.
Jason R. Caines, 36, Grove City, 60 months.
Carrie A. Kight, 29, Columbus, 48 months in prison.
William P. Deem Jr., 39, Columbus, 36 months.
Jon S. Lawson, 29, Columbus, 24 months.
Gregory A. Forby, 30, Columbus, 18 months.
Marcus H. Virgin, 34, Columbus, 12 months and a day.
Walter Eugene King, 33, Columbus, 84 months.
Awaiting sentencing are:
Jerry A. Dearwester, 41, Hilliard
Franklin D. Lonas Jr., 49, Columbus
Benjamin F. Henson, 29, Columbus
Nicholas Douglas Murray, 24, Columbus
Jeana L. Marcum, 54, Columbus
Oxycodone is a Schedule II controlled substance which the DEA says is frequently abused for its narcotic effect. It sells on the street for approximately $1 per milligram and is most commonly sold in 30-milligram pills. The conspirators also obtained prescriptions for hydrocodone, morphine, Percocet and Xanax.
“The effects of oxycodone are akin to the physical (addiction and withdrawal) of heroin, but are sugar-coated because respected (doctors and pharmacists) are part of the distribution system,” Solove told the court.
“I want to commend the cooperation between the Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies, DEA agents and task force officers who worked with Assistant U.S. Attorney Solove in a successful investigation that started with a tip from a concerned citizen and led to the dismantling of a drug trafficking organization,” Stewart said.