Cobb pharmacist, 72, gets 15 years in prison for supplying illegal prescriptions

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

A Cobb County pharmacist filled fake prescriptions and distributed drugs to dealers and addicts for years until he was caught, officials said. On Friday, he was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison.

Thomas Ukoshovbera Gbenedio, 72, was found guilty of 70 counts of illegally dispensing and distributing controlled substances and one count of refusing an administrative inspection warrant, according to court documents. He was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $200,000 fine.

“Gbenedio used his pharmacy as a pill-mill to supply highly addictive narcotics to drug dealers and drug addicts,” U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Ryan Buchanan said in a news release Wednesday. “His greed exacerbated the opioid epidemic that continues to plague our community.”

Buchanan said the investigation began after the Georgia Drug and Narcotics Agency conducted a routine inspection at Better Way Pharmacy in Mableton, which Gbenedio owned. Authorities noticed that many of Gbenedio’s customers were driving from out of state to get prescriptions filled.

Several were for large quantities of addictive opioids, Buchanan said, and many appeared to be from the same physician.

The prescriptions being filled by Gbenedio between 2014 and 2016 were later found to be fake and illegal, and he charged his customers up to $1,000 to fill them, according to authorities.

After the jury found Gbenedio guilty in October, he attempted to flee the country to avoid imprisonment, Buchanan said. He was later arrested at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

“As the nationwide trend toward the non-medical use of prescription drugs swells, the need for an organized, immediate and effective response increases correspondingly,” said Robert J. Murphy, special agent for the DEA Atlanta field division. “The abuse of a trusted medical professional (a pharmacist in this case) like Mr. Gbenedio will not be tolerated.”