Six people have been arrested in Beaufort County, including a current Highway Patrol sergeant, a former Washington police officer, and four others in the medical field.
Officials confirm Lori Melton, Anna Moore, Amanda Bunch, Justin Mixon, Kevin D. Owens and Arron Jones have been arrested on federal charges.
The arrests were made Thursday by the State Bureau of Investigation's Diversion and Environmental Crimes agents and the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.
The suspects were each placed under $25,000 unsecured bond.
The NC Board of Pharmacy and DEA Diversion helped with the case.
To read the indictments, click on the link at the top of the story.
Officials report Mixon is the former police officer. Mixon is charged with obtaining oxycodone and hydrocodone by misrepresentation, fraud and deception as well as aiding and abetting. He was an officer in Washington from February 4, 2008 until he resigned November 5th, 2010.
Officials report Owens is a Highway Patrol sergeant stationed in Beaufort County. A North Carolina Highway Patrol spokesperson tells WITN Owens had been on administrative duty since December 2, 2010, that's when the SBI began its criminal investigation.
Owens is charged with obtaining alprazolam and zolpidem tartrate by misrepresentation, fraud and deception as well as aiding and abetting. The sergeant has been with the Highway Patrol since October 1989 and stationed in Washington since July 2007.
Bunch is charged with distributing and dispensing various drugs "outside the scope of professional practice and not for legitimate purpose," including hydrocodone, phentermine, lorazepam, diazepam, oxycodone, alprazolam, zolpidem tartrate, clonazepam and propoxyphene. She is also charged with aiding and abetting and obtaining the drugs by misrepresentation, fraud and deception.
Bunch was a registered nurse practitioner. Online records show her license was suspended in October 2011. Online records from the NC Board of Nursing state "this matter came to the Board's attention following a call from an agent with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), who was working a case involving a suspected pharmacy diversion in Washington, North Carolina. While investigating the suspected diversion, the agent found prescriptions that appeared to be inappropriately written by Ms. Bunch." Bunch's license was reinstated in February 2012.
Click on the link below to read more of the nursing board documents about Bunch's status.
Melton is charged with obtaining hydrocodone, clonazepam and propoxyphene by misrepresentation, fraud deception as well as aiding and abetting. The SBI lists her as a pharmacy manager. Melton's Facebook, as of Thursday morning. listed her as business manager/partner at Tayloe's Hospital Pharmacy. Online records from the NC Secretary of State office list her as an officer of the company.
Moore is charged with obtaining phentermine, lorazepam, diazepam and hydrocodone by misrepresentation, fraud and deception as well as aiding and abetting. Moore was once a nurse anesthesist at the hospital in Washington.
According to the SBI, Bunch, Melton and Moore are sisters.
Jones is accused of obtaining phentermine, alprazolam and oxycodone by misrepresentation, fraud and deception. The SBI lists Jones as a registered nurse.
Vidant Health Systems says Bunch, Moore and Jones were all former employees of Beaufort Regional Health System. Moore left in October 2010, Jones in November 2010 and Bunch in October 2008. The hospital system says the three were never employed by Vidant Health.
The indictment alleges the prescription crimes began in April 2007.
According to the NIH, the National Institutes of Health:
Brand names for Alprazolam are Niravam and Xanax. A brand name of Zolpidem Tartrate is Ambien. Phentermine is prescribed to speed weight loss. A brand name for Lorazepam is Ativan, an anxiety drug.
Hydrocodone and Oxycodone are prescribed for pain relief. A brand name for Clonazepam is Klonopin. It is prescribed to control seizures and panic attacks. Propoxyphene, a pain killer, was not available in the U.S. after November 2010.
Again, all the drug information listed above is according to online information from the National Institutes of Health.
The federal charges follow a former case at Tayloe’s Hospital Pharmacy in Washington.
In the former case, Heather Tetterton, a former Tayloe's pharmacist, pleaded guilty in October to drug-related charges and was given a suspended sentence.
Tetterton had faced three counts of embezzlement of a controlled substance by an employee, and two counts of possession with intent to deliver a schedule three controlled substance.
Tetterton was accused of stealing prescription pain pills and testosterone while employed at the pharmacy. In a plea deal worked out with the state, Tetterton pleaded guilty to all five counts, in exchange for other charges against her being dropped.