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Archives 10-17-2007

News

Pharmacy paper trail leads to 50 arrests
Season’s last cruise-in held

County ranks 7th highest in unemployment
Forest fire season nowin effect

 

Pharmacy paper trail leads to 50 arrests

Carson Oliver/OCN
Clark’s Medical Center Pharmacy owner Doug Clark is brought into Overton County Jail by Overton County deputies and OIG agents while various news media record the incarceration.

Overton County Sheriff’s Department and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) began Friday, Oct. 12 the process of serving hundreds of charges related to the Clark’s Pharmacy investigation.

OIG and the Sheriff’s Dept. obtained indictments against Overton County pharmacist Malcolm D. Clark, doing business as Clark’s Medical Center Pharmacy. Indictments were also made against 50 pharmacy patrons for committing prescription drug fraud, and 22 of those face TennCare fraud charges involving prescription drug painkillers. Clark has been charged with more than a hundred counts related to illegally dispensing controlled substances.

Overton County Detective Greg Etheredge, the lead investigator in the cases, said, “An undercover operation was launched in January, when we began receiving tips that citizens could get fraudulent prescriptions filled at Clark’s Medical Center Pharmacy. Our investigation revealed that numerous individuals would take their fraudulent or altered prescriptions to Clark’s Pharmacy, where there was a ‘no questions asked’ policy by pharmacist Doug Clark regarding the validity of a prescription.

“For years, this operation has bilked the system of millions of taxpayer dollars,” Etheredge said.

Sheriff’s and OIG investigators followed the paper trail of thousands of suspected forged prescriptions that were filled at Clark’s Pharmacy between 2003 and 2006, by individuals across Middle Tennessee.

“A number of individuals traveled as far as a hundred miles to get their prescription filled at Doug Clark’s Pharmacy,” Etheredge said. “The investigation uncovered a variety of different types of forged prescriptions – anyone could spot the obvious changes to prescription quantities for the prescribed medications.

“Among the most surprising were prescriptions for the powerful drug morphine that were nothing more than copy paper without a doctor’s signature, accepted and filled by pharmacist Doug Clark.”

Records from the pharmacy also revealed a number of people who were able to pass multiple prescriptions for the same drugs within days of each other that would normally be months worth of a supply, according to the Sheriff’s Dept.

On October 1, Greg Etheredge, Brian Franklin, and Jacob Boswell of Overton County Sheriff’s Dept. along with OIG Special Agent Rodney Morton presented the cases to Overton County Grand Jury.

Clark was arrested last Friday on more than 100 counts of TennCare fraud and charges related to illegally dispensing controlled substances. These were indictments in addition to previous charges against him.

Clark appeared in Overton County General Sessions Court on Monday, Oct. 15 and was released on $5,000 bond.

More than a half-dozen law enforcement agencies assisted OIG and the Sheriff’s Dept., including Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, Algood Police Department, Cookeville Police Department, Monterey Police Department, Pickett County Sheriff’s Department, and White County Sheriff’s Department.

Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner, who joined Overton Sheriff’s Dept. in launching the roundup Friday morning, said, “This continues to be an ongoing battle with people defrauding TennCare for their drugs. This is a battle we will continue to fight. We will prosecute anyone involved in TennCare fraud, including pharmacists.

“An incredible amount of hard work and persistence went into these arrests, on the part of many in the Overton County Sheriff’s Department who are just as committed to getting this out of their communities.”

TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. District Attorney General Pro Temproe Anthony Craighead and Assistant District Attorney Owen G. Burnett will be prosecuting the cases.

Through the OIG Cash for Tips Program established by the Legislature, Tennesseans can get cash rewards for TennCare fraud tips that lead to convictions. Suspected TennCare fraud can be reported by calling 1-800-433-3982 toll-free from anywhere in Tennessee, or by logging on to www.tncarefraud.tennessee.gov and follow the prompts that read “Report TennCare Fraud”.

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Season’s last cruise-in held


Dewain E. Peek photo
Standing Stone Cruisers’ October Cruise-In and Halloween Bash was held Saturday, Oct. 13 on the Livingston square. The club’s last event of the year featured a Halloween theme and had 140 vehicles registered. Organizer James “Horn” King expressed appreciation to all of the businesses that have helped support the cruise-ins and to all of the people who have brought out their vehicles this year. For more information on the Standing Stone Cruisers visit www.StandingStoneCruisers.com.


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County ranks 7th highest in unemployment

Tennessee’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August 2007, decreased from the July rate of 4.1% to 4.0%. The United States rate was 4.6% for August, and remained unchanged from July.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for August 2007 show 13 counties remained unchanged, 17 counties increased, and 65 counties decreased.

Overton County had the state’s 7th highest unemployment rate at 6.9%, down from the July rate of 7.2. Overton had 710 unemployed of a workforce of 10,230.

Overton County is included in the Cookeville Micropolitan Statistical Area, along with Putnam County and Jackson County. The Cookeville MSA lowered to 4.8% in August, from 4.9% in July, with 2,400 unemployed of a workforce of 50,190.

Jackson County’s unemployment rate was 4.9%, down from 5.8 in July. Jackson had 250 unemployed of a workforce of 5,160.

Putnam County’s unemployment rate remained the same as in July, 4.1% .

Putnam had 1,440 unemployed of a workforce of 34,800.

Pickett County’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.9% in July to 6.1%.

Pickett had 110 unemployed of a workforce of 1,850.

Clay County’s unemployment rate was the 9th highest in the state at 6.7%, down from 7.7. Clay had 240 unemployed of a workforce of 3,650.

Fentress County’s unemployment rate was 5.6%, down from 5.8 in July.

Fentress had 430 unemployed of a workforce of 7,690.

Unemployment information is available online at www.tennessee.gov/labor-wfd/labor_figures/august2007county.pdf.

 

Forest fire season now in effect

Officials with Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry are reminding citizens of permit requirements and fire safety precautions for outdoor burning. The fire prevention message coincided with the official start of forest fire season in Tennessee, which began October 15.

State Forester Steve Scott said, “Because of the extremely dry conditions going into what is normally our driest time of the year and the traditional start of fire season, it’s important that citizens call for a burning permit and follow fire safety recommendations for outdoor burning.

“Many areas of the state are still too dry to allow burning, and the permit system helps us communicate to the public when and where it is safe to burn.”

Division of Forestry implemented burning permit requirements seven weeks earlier than normal this year due to extremely dry conditions from the lingering drought. Since August 27, the division has issued more than 7,000 permits statewide, mostly following rain showers that made burning temporarily safe in some areas. Permits for the open, outdoor burning of leaves and wood debris are normally not required except during official fire season, October 15 through May 15.

“By implementing the burning permit system early, we think we’ve had a major impact on reducing the number of escaped debris fires, which are a leading cause of wildfires,” Scott said. “The public is a very important partner in helping us reduce the number of wildfires by respecting state and local restrictions, always using common sense, and by reporting suspicious activity that may be related to arson.”

According to state Forestry officials, burning permits are not likely to be issued in many areas of the state until substantial rainfall is received.

When conditions improve, citizens should inquire about burning permits by calling their local Division of Forestry office listed in the phone directory under state government between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. A directory of state Forestry Division offices by county and fire safety tips also can be found online at www.burnsafetn.org.

Activities requiring a burning permit include, but are not limited to unconfined, outdoor burning of brush and leaves, untreated wood waste, and burning to clear land. Burning permits are required in most areas unless superseded by local ordinance, so citizens are encouraged to check for any restrictions by municipalities.

Since January 1, more than 2,900 fires have burned an estimated 40,900 acres in Tennessee, well above average for what is normally seen in a 12-month period. Escaped debris burns are the leading cause of wildfire; however, 36% of the wildfires this year have been due to arson, which is a class C felony punishable by 3 to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 fines. Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline toll-free at 1-800-762-3017.

Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $50. For more information visit the Forestry Division’s wildfire safety website at www.burnsafetn.org.




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Obituaries
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01-24-2007
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02-28-2007
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