George Richard Bolling Jr., 54, a pharmacist from Jasper, Ala., and his pharmacy technician, Cassandra Holliman, from Fayette, Ala., were indicted December, 2015 on charges of conspiring to illegally distribute and dispense prescription drugs in Walker, Lamar, Winston and Fayette counties from January 2013 until March 2015. The drugs included oxycodone, methadone, morphine sulfate, hydrocodone, ketamine HCL, zolpidem tartrate, alprazolam and clonazepam. Bolling owned five pharmacies in the state: Berry Discount Apothecary in Berry, Bolling Apothecary in Fayette, Hospital Discount Apothecary in Vernon, Brown’s Discount Apothecary in Jasper and Gateway Discount Apothecary in Double Springs. He was also charged with illegally transferring oxycodone between two pharmacies, directing a pharmacy employee to destroy evidence and 14 counts of using a telephone to facilitate the charged drug-trafficking conspiracy. The charges stem from the long-term investigation that was part of the DEA’s “Operation Pilluted” earlier this year in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. This same operation led the prosecution of three Birmingham-area physicians earlier this year.
This demonstrates how the DEA and US Attorneys are working bigtime to target doctors in more and more states for their assets.
In the course of the Bolling investigation, four other people associated with him have been charged with narcotics offenses.
- Brown’s Discount Apothecary co-owner Joseph Anthony “Stick” Cacioppo, 52, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute ketamine HCL, a surgical anesthetic.
- Teri Jo Tuck, 53, a nurse, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute ketamine HCL pursuant to fraudulent prescriptions.
- Two pharmacists employed by Bolling, Terry Duke, 60, pleaded guilty to distribution and his brother, Ronnie Duke, 63, to knowingly omitting material information from controlled substance records.
“Alabama leads the nation in the number of per capita prescriptions for opioid painkillers,” U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance said. “Medically necessary use of painkillers is appropriate, but when a pharmacist violates his medical oath and becomes a drug dealer, preying on prescription drug addicts like any other trafficker in illegal drugs, he should expect the same sort of prosecution.” “Abusers of prescription opiates often shift to heroin abuse, and that trend contributes to our epidemic overdose death rates. Pharmacists should not abuse the trust the community places in them by selling opiates illegally in order to make a profit.”
Again, statements like this are what pave the way for the government to use the CSA against medical professionals, even though the meaning and purpose of the act completely protected medical professionals from attack.
What the government does not accept here, but should be obvious is that squeezing the chronic pain population by eliminating their doctors, and now their pharmacies is what is forcing more people to the street for treatment, and eventually to the use of heroin. Statistics show that in spite of the increased control of prescriptions, drug abuse has quadrupled.
There is no further information available on the status of Mr. Bolling’s charges as of the date of this post, April 13, 2016. If anyone knows anything further, or can contact Mr. Bolling so he can communicate with us about his case, please pass this on.