In this undated photo, Detectives Greg Flanagan (left) and Paul Mongold examine forged prescriptions in connection with a long-term drug investigation at the Murfreesboro Police Department in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo submitted)
More than 20 people were indicted by a Rutherford County grand jury Thursday in connection with a long-term prescription fraud investigation.
Twenty-two people were indicted on 69 charges ranging from fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, and identity theft and forgery, following a five-month investigation led by Detectives Greg Flanagan and Paul Mongold, according to a Murfreesboro Police Department press release.
“This is one of the largest, if not the largest, prescription fraud cases in department history,” Flanagan said. “We want to send a message that we work with doctors and pharmacists to detect prescription fraud, and we will pursue any case where we discover illegal activities involving pharmaceutical fraud or forgery.”
Police allege Christine Sankey and Donald Pinkston oversaw the recruitment of at least 20 people who were hired to fill professionally forged prescriptions throughout Rutherford County.
In exchange for the pills and cash, Flanagan said, the recruits would fill prescriptions for 30 milligrams of Oxycodone and return the prescription to Sankey and Pinkston, who would then sell the illegally obtained drugs on the street.
Detectives said they believe the pair sold more than 5,000 pills, valued at more than $100,000, between May and October of 2012.
“The investigation began when Sankey and Pinkston were caught with computers, high quality printers, scanners and prescription grade paper,” said Sgt. Kyle Evans, public information officer for the Police Department. “The case developed further as forged prescriptions began surfacing at local pharmacies.”
Through the investigation, Evans said, detectives were able to trace the prescriptions back to Sankey and Pinkston.
Mongold said this case highlights why law enforcement officials remain committed to investigating drug-related crimes, whether it be illegal narcotics or prescription fraud.
“Short term or long term, we will investigate fraud crimes, dismantle organizations such as this, and hold criminals accountable for forging prescriptions,” Mongold said. “It is a serious crime that is connected to burglaries, robberies and other issues affecting our community. It is a priority for the Fraud Unit in the Criminal Investigations Division.”