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Archives 02-24-2010

News

Plea deal ends Clark’s Pharmacy case
Police chase ends in Hidden Valley
Drugs, money seized by Sheriff’s Dept.
Candidates qualify for May 4 primary elections

Plea deal ends Clark’s Pharmacy case

Malcolm Douglas Clark forfeited the Clark’s Medical Center Pharmacy building on Roberts Street and all firearms and ammunition that were seized in the 2006 raid.

Malcolm Douglas Clark, 65, of Villa Drive, entered a plea of guilty to 6 felony counts before Criminal Court Judge David Patterson on Friday, Feb. 19, ending a case that became public with a raid at his business, Clark’s Medical Center Pharmacy.

Overton County Sheriff’s Department raided Clark’s Pharmacy on October 16, 2006 after an investigation by then Det. Greg Etheredge, who is now Livingston police chief, and after Det. Brian Franklin conducted an undercover operation where Clark sold drugs to an undercover informant on a forged prescription of oxycodone, even after being told the prescription was forged.

Clark was indicted in October 2007 on over 300 counts of drug related charges. Overton County Sheriff’s Department and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) obtained the indictments stemming from numerous undercover investigations, beginning in 2003 and up to October 2006 when the Sheriff’s Dept. raided the pharmacy. Many of the doctors police interviewed had no idea their names were being used to obtain narcotics from the pharmacy.

According to police, allegations had been made for many years in the community and surrounding counties that Clark’s Pharmacy was the place to go to get prescription drugs with “no questions asked” in regard to the validity of prescriptions for narcotics.

Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said, “Clark’s Pharmacy was a problem for the Livingston community and the surrounding area for several years. It was one of the first things I heard about from citizens when we formed this office six years ago.

“Having a full court press made the difference in this case, as none of the agencies involved and especially the OIG would let up until we carried the case to the end.”

In the plea agreement, Clark pled guilty to 1 count of Sale of Oxycodone, Schedule II Controlled Substance in a Drug-Free School Zone, a Class C felony, 1 count of Obtaining Dihydrocodeinone, Schedule III Controlled Substance by Fraud, a Class D felony, 1 count of TennCare Fraud, a Class E felony, 1 count of Theft of Property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, a Class C felony, 2 counts of Unlawfully Dispensing Morphine, Schedule II Controlled Substance, a Class D felony.

Clark was ordered to pay over $48,000 in restitution to TennCare, over $47,000 to the Office of Inspector General, over $248,000 to Overton County Sheriff’s Department, and $39,000 to Overton County.

All firearms and ammunition seized from Clark were also surrendered to Overton County Sheriff’s Department.

More than $350,000, and some items, seized in the raid are to be returned to Clark.

Clark was further ordered to “retire” his Tennessee pharmacy license, which he held from February 26, 1970, and forfeit the building in which the pharmacy was located. The building will be used as a substation for detectives with Overton County Sheriff’s Department and the Office of Inspector General to coordinate and combat criminal activity in Overton County.

He was sentenced to 10 years supervised probation.

During the sentencing phase, Judge Patterson remarked that Malcolm Clark had the opportunity to be a community leader but instead breached the family values of the Overton County community and contributed to the devastation in the Upper Cumberland concerning drug abuse and addiction.
Judge Patterson stated, “Any probation violations during the next 10 years will not be tolerated.”

Etheredge said of the investigation that began in 2003, “Other state and federal agencies joined in the investigation, including the Office of Attorney General for the 13th Judicial District, DEA, IRS, ATF, Tennessee Department of Revenue, Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, and the Tennessee Department of Safety.”

Etheredge added, “There are so many people involved in this case, it’s hard to recognize everyone for their contribution, but a great deal of credit goes to Det. Brian Franklin for his role that has not been heard of much over the years. Brian really put the original buy together that started it all.

“Sheriff Melton should be commended for allowing us to work this case and devote time, money, and resources to the investigation.”

Sheriff W.B. Melton said, “Assistant District Attorney Owen Burnett deserves a lot of credit, and he played a major role in negotiating this settlement.”

Chief Etheredge stated, “This has been a long time coming, but we achieved our ultimate goal in 2006 when the pharmacy shut down, which a lot of people said would never happen. It is amazing what we have seen since this place shut down.

“For example, we used to see large amounts of Avinza morphine on the streets, but not now.”

Etheredge also stated that without the cooperation of the Office of Inspector General, tasked with investigating TennCare fraud, this case would never have been made. OIG assigned Special Agent Rodney Morton to the case and a multitude of research personnel from the office for more than a year, according to Etheredge.

In addition to Clark, 50 individuals were charged with obtaining prescriptions by fraud and TennCare fraud. At this point, more than 35 individuals have been convicted as a result of this case.


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Police chase ends in Hidden Valley
A police chase that started in Cookeville ended in Livingston, after causing the lockdown of four schools.

According to reports, the purse of an off-duty Cookeville police officer was stolen from her car when the window was broken out of it around 8 a.m. Friday, Feb. 19. A suspect vehicle was spotted at the Kangaroo market and then it headed north on Highway 111.

Livingston Police Department received a dispatch around 8:30 a.m. from Overton County 911 that a suspect vehicle involved in a burglary in Cookeville was possibly headed into Livingston. LPD and Overton County Sheriff’s Department officers went to the west end of town and spotted the suspect vehicle near Raceway.

When officers attempted to stop the vehicle it went up the bypass at a high rate of speed. Officers followed the vehicle on the bypass, through the 4-way intersection, and on toward Livingston Academy.

The suspect vehicle, a dark colored SUV, traveled into the oncoming lane of traffic near LA, then turned into the school parking lot, to the back side near the softball field, crashed through a fence, then left the school property across a field toward Allred Street before coming to a stop near the woods.

Two occupants, later identified as Robert Tuggle and Melissa Donaldson, both of Davidson County, attempted to flee on foot. Tuggle was subdued by Livingston School Resource Officer Logan Carpenter and assisted by Officer Ray Smith.

Donaldson got farther, crossing Highway 52 before being captured near Hidden Valley as law enforcement flooded the area, including an airplane, a Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter, and a tracking dog that were en route to the area. Donaldson surrendered to Det. Jacob Boswell without incident.

Livingston Academy, Livingston Middle School, A.H. Roberts, and Allons Elementary School were all placed on “lock down” as a security measure until the suspects were both in custody.

Inside the suspect vehicle, officers allegedly recovered stolen items from Murfreesboro, Mt. Juliet, and Cookeville. The two were charged in Overton County with multiple offenses, including Evading Arrest and Reckless Endangerment.

Tuggle’s bond was set at $75,000, and Donaldson’s bond was set at $25,000. They are to appear in court on February 23, and both face additional charges in surrounding counties.




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Drugs, money seized by Sheriff’s Dept.
While conducting drug interdiction on Highway 111 on Thursday, Feb. 18, Overton County Sheriff’s Department officers made a traffic stop that resulted in the seizure of drugs and money.

Overton County’s K-9 unit was called to the scene of a stop. After arriving, K-9 Solo indicated narcotics were in the vehicle. Upon searching the vehicle in question, officers located two pounds of “high quality” marijuana and 52 pills.

All items were seized along with, over $1,000 cash.

During the investigation, three male subjects were taken to Overton County Sheriff’s Department for questioning.

This case will be presented to Overton County Grand Jury at a later date.


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Candidates qualify for May 4 primary elections
The deadline for turning in qualifying papers for the May 4 Democrat Party Primary and Republican Party Primary was Thursday, Feb. 18.

Candidates who qualified for the Republican Primary are as follows:

Ron Cyrus is the candidate for County Mayor, incumbent W. B. Melton is the candidate for Sheriff, and Eddie Mott is the candidate for Circuit Court Clerk.

Candidates who qualified for the Democrat Primary are as follows:

Incumbent Kenneth Copeland and challengers Ed Choate and Chris Speck are candidates for County Mayor.

Bill Randolph is the candidate for Sheriff.

Candidates for Circuit Court Clerk are Bryce Easterly, Christy Sims Harris, Doug Looper, Barbara Matthews, Mark Peek, Cindy Robbins, and Susan Robbins. Incumbent Johnny Brown is not seeking re-election.

Thomas Hall is opposing incumbent Franklin D. “Peck” Smith for Register of Deeds.

Incumbents Peggy Clark Smith for Trustee, Hugh L. Ogletree for County Clerk, and Randall A. York for 13th Judicial District Attorney for District 13 are unopposed, as is Amy V. Hollars for 13th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge for District 13.

Both the Republican and Democrat primaries will be held May 4, with early voting to be held April 14-29.



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