- Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 May 2011 15:21
- Published on Wednesday, 04 May 2011 15:21
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Prompted by the death of Taylor Bowie, the King George County Sheriff’s Dept. recently concluded an extensive investigation into a ring of prescription drug distribution. That investigation recently yielded the arrests of 10 people, with three more persons outstanding, and the cases were brought to King George Circuit Court on April 28.
Charged were alleged ring leader Jennifer Andrea Garino, 42, who faces 13 different offenses in the case including four counts of distributing a controlled substance, three counts of distributing near a school zone, three counts of conspiracy to distribute, two counts of possession with intent to distribute and one count of child endangerment. Additionally, Shane Antonio Thomas was charged with 11 separate offenses. Garino’s son, Joshua Adams Barton, was charged with child endangerment and conspiracy to distribute, along with Jonathan Lee Feather (six offenses), Akiva Cooper Epps (two offenses), Robert William Foley (two offenses), Claudie D. Oliver III (three offenses), and Antwan Lydell Whiting, Hanna Elise Larsen and Matthew Lucas Smith each with one count against them.
Each was in court procuring attorneys last Thursday. Their trial dates were set for various times next month and in June.
According to King George Sheriff Steve Dempsey, the drug investigation was primarily focused on prescription medication for pain.
“It is our No. 1 problem involving drugs,” he said.
Dempsey added that most of the medication was obtained by “doctor and/or dentist shopping.”
“They would go to a (health professional) and complain about, for example, a shoulder problem and say ‘oh, doctor, it hurts so bad I can hardly move my arm,’ and demand pain medication…then they would go to another doctor, and another,” Dempsey said. “Most of them then pay cash at the pharmacy for the drug medication because they know that insurance companies are going to cross check and would inform us of a problem.”
Dempsey also noted that the “nexus of this was Taylor Bowie’s death. Bowie died of a drug overdose last June.”
In a press release, the sheriff pointed out that “the sheriff’s office and King George Commonwealth Attorney’s Office committed itself to this strong initiative in order to combat the rising tide of prescription bill distribution following the death of Ms. Bowie. The three people most closely associated with Ms. Bowie’s death have already been arrested and convicted and are serving their sentences.”
Additionally, Dempsey said the exhaustive drug probe was conducted by the Tri-County Task Force, which included the King George County Sheriff’s Department, Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Department, Colonial Beach Police Department, Virginia State Police and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
— Doug Davant