State board member arrested on drug charges

A member of the Georgia Building Authority and a top donor to state officials was arrested Tuesday in Columbia County on three drug-related charges.

Dr. George Snelling III of Martinez is accused of illegally writing a prescription for Valium and Tramadol, a painkiller, with the intent to distribute the pills to another person, according to the incident report filed by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. The incident report did not identify the recipient of the allegedly unlawful transaction.

Snelling, 61, is a licensed dentist who also owns a self-storage business. Efforts to reach Snelling and his attorney were unsuccessful. Snelling was released on $18,800 bond.

State records show that Snelling has made more than $100,000 in direct or in-kind contributions to elected officials, the Georgia Republican Party and special-interest groups since 2006.

The Georgia Building Authority manages more than 30 state buildings in Atlanta, including the Capitol and Governor’s Mansion, and it oversees landscaping, food service and parking. The agency also negotiates leases for office space on behalf of state agencies.

Snelling was appointed to the agency’s governing board by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, to whom Snelling has contributed more than $30,000 in cash and services. Cagle spokesman Ben Fry declined to discuss any action regarding Snelling’s appointment.

“This is a pending legal matter currently in the hands of the judicial system,” Fry said. “We are confident that the process will work appropriately and are withholding additional comment until we have the ability to review all the relevant facts in this situation.”

State law says any state officer convicted of a felony automatically loses his position.

According to the incident report, a Walgreens pharmacist provided police with two handwritten prescriptions, allegedly signed by Snelling. The report says the prescription was written for an employee of Snelling’s. The employee is listed as a witness on the incident report.

Snelling is charged with attempting to obtain a controlled substance by fraud and unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, both felonies. He is also charged with a misdemeanor, attempting to obtain a dangerous drug by fraud.

If convicted on the felonies, Snelling would face up to 13 years in prison and fines of up to $75,000.

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