Ten people were arrested in Cherokee County over the past several months after they allegedly used bogus prescription forms to obtain opioid pain medications, possibly in an attempt to deal the drugs to others.
First, on Aug. 14, a pharmacist at a Walgreens in Canton alerted police that two people may have been passing forged prescriptions to get Oxycodone, a painkiller drug. Officers arrested Dylan Paul Dessasore, 40, and Lizette Pabellon, 39, both of the Bronx, N.Y., after finding a number of false prescriptions from metro Atlanta doctors’ offices and fake driver’s licenses in Dessasore’s car, the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad said in a statement Wednesday.
They were charged with forgery in the first degree, seven counts of forgery in the second degree, 10 counts of identity fraud, criminal attempt to commit a felony and possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.
Three weeks later, on Oct. 5, a pharmacist at a Woodstock Walgreens again got suspicious about a prescription for Oxycodone, the statement said. Authorities said they later found Demaun McDuffie and Jermaine Young outside the store with several other prescriptions and 28 driver’s licences from four states, and more Oxycodone. Both were arrested, along with 50-year-old Pamela Smith, who allegedly tried to fill the prescription.
Young, 38, of Norcross, was charged with five counts of forgery in the second degree, possession of Oxycodone, criminal attempt to commit a felony and possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.
McDuffie, 22, of Atlanta, was charged with five counts of forgery in the second degree, forgery in the first degree, two counts of possession of Oxycodone, criminal attempt to commit a felony, obtaining controlled substances by fraud, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.
Smith, of Claxton, was charged with five counts of forgery in the second degree, possession of Oxycodone, forgery in the first degree, criminal attempt to commit a felony and possession of Oxycodone.
Three days later, five people were indicted on charges that they were part of a prescription fraud ring operating in metro Atlanta, following a year-long investigation.
Alana Negron, 45, of Woodstock, Keegan Patrick, 30, of Canton, Jasmin Patrick, 33, of Canton, Daniel Dement, 38, of Canton, and Maria Ines Rodriguez, 23, of Canton, face charges of identity theft, obtaining controlled substances by fraud, possession of a controlled substance and forgery in the first degree.
Authorities said the group filled fake prescriptions for opioids at pharmacies in Cherokee, Cobb and Hall counties between May 2016 and May 2017.
As communities across the state continue to grapple with the opioid crisis, the joint drug task force said the recent arrests are an important step toward curbing the issue and stopping opioid trafficking.
“One of the primary routes for opioids to get in the hands of addicts is for criminals to work in organized rings to pass fraudulent and fictitious prescriptions to obtain the medicine that legitimate patients must rely on for relief,” the statement said.
In other news:
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.