ATLANTA, GA. - A federal grand jury in Atlanta returned indictments this week in two separate cases charging a total of 13 defendants from Georgia and Kentucky with illegally trafficking in oxycodone and other prescription drugs. In the larger of the two cases, agents arrested a total of 6 defendants, all of whom appeared in federal court yesterday and today for arraignments.
The two cases arise out of intensified efforts to address Georgia's growing problem with the abuse of prescription drugs. On March 2, 2011, United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates and other leaders in federal, state, and local law enforcement, public policy, health and medicine, substance abuse treatment, and academia convened in a summit at Georgia State University to explore the scope of the prescription drug abuse problem and steps that can be taken to address the problem.
Since that time, the Georgia state legislature passed legislation on April 19 approving a prescription drug monitoring program, which will allow law enforcement and the medical board to more effectively identify and prevent the diversion and misuse of oxycodone and other abused prescription drugs. The bill currently is awaiting signature by the Governor to be enacted into law.
"The participants at the summit demonstrated that Georgia is experiencing an epidemic of prescription drug abuse that is devastating many of our communities," Ms. Yates said. "The problem is one that law enforcement cannot solve alone, and instead will require a comprehensive effort from public health, medicine, and our communities. With that said the indictments in these two cases show that this office will play an active role in arresting and punishing those who are contributing to prescription drug abuse."
1. Indictment returned charging 11 Georgia citizens with forging oxycodone prescriptions and trafficking in oxycodone tablets
A federal grand jury in Atlanta returned an indictment this week charging 11 Georgia citizens with conspiring to forge oxycodone prescriptions and trafficking in the illegally obtained oxycodone tablets. 7 of the defendants were arrested over the past 48 hours and have been arraigned. The charged defendants include: KRISTEN NOELLE GODUTO, 27, of Marietta, Georgia; KORY JOSEPH GODUTO, 30, of Marietta, Georgia; PASQUALE PETER GODUTO, 60, of Marietta, Georgia; MARK JAMES O'BRIEN, 34, of Marietta, Georgia; LORI RENE ANDERSON, 32 of Acworth, Georgia; GEORGIA ANN HULSEY, 31 of Marietta, Georgia; PHILLIP DAVID HOBBS, 38 of Canton, Georgia; LEVI YOUNG STIGALL, 27 of Canton, Georgia; DAVID LEE TANNER, 32 of Acworth, Georgia; RYAN PATRICK TRENTO, 25, of Marietta, Georgia; and JUSTIN HOWARD, 28, of Braselton, Georgia.
Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Atlanta Field Division of the DEA said, “These indictments have caused the dismantlement of an organization responsible for the distribution of oxycodone, a powerful and addictive opium derivative. This case is a perfect example of the success that can be accomplished when federal, state and local resources are combined to present a united front.”
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, "Prescription drug abuse is our nation's fastest-growing segment of illegal drug use, causing significantly more overdose deaths than cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin combined. Oxycodone remains one of the most widely abused prescription drugs, and it's also one of the most addictive and deadly drugs when not taken properly. The forging of prescriptions is an especially harmful situation because it completely removes the oversight of a physician from the equation."
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: KRISTEN NOELLE GODUTO allegedly led 10 co-defendants in a conspiracy to possess oxycodone with the intent to distribute. GODUTO manufactured prescriptions for oxycodone, and recruited others to pass the forged prescriptions throughout the Northern District of Georgia, from as far south as McDonough and Covington, Georgia, to as far north as Dalton and Blue Ridge, Georgia. GODUTO allegedly paid those who passed the prescriptions in either cash or narcotics. By passing these forged prescriptions, this criminal organization obtained, and attempted to obtain, over 10,000 thousand oxycodone tablets which they intended to distribute on the streets.
Oxycodone is the generic name of a prescription painkiller that is an ingredient in popular brand medications including Oxycontin, Percocet, and Roxycodone.
The indictment charges the eleven defendants with one count of conspiring to possess a controlled substance, namely oxycodone, with the intent to distribute. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
In a related case, on May 11, 2011, an associate of the GODUTO organization, TERRY RANDY WALLACE, 23, of Newnan, Georgia, pleaded guilty to conspiring with KRISTEN NOELLE GODUTO and others to possess oxycodone with the intent to distribute it. Specifically, WALLACE received forged prescriptions from GODUTO and presented the forged prescriptions at pharmacies to have them filled, thereby obtaining oxycodone tablets. Once he obtained the oxycodone, WALLACE gave the drugs to GODUTO so that they could be distributed.
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth M. Hathaway and are being investigated by Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the Cartersville Police Department, the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad, the Cobb County Sheriff's Office, the Smyrna Police Department, the Fannin County Sheriff's Office, the Rome Police Department, the Bartow County Sheriff's Office, and the Douglasville Sheriff's Office.
2. Indictment returned against Kentucky pair charging that they traveled to Georgia to purchase oxycodone for resale in Kentucky
Rodney G. Benson, SAC of the Atlanta Field Division of the DEA said, “The sharp increase in the distribution of pain pills for non-medical reasons continues to be a major concern. As such, DEA and its local law enforcement counterparts will continue to target those who traffic these addictive pain medications. This case was a success because of the spirited level of law enforcement cooperation.”
In an unrelated case, on May 10, 2011, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against JAMES R. ANDERSON, 39, of Richmond, Kentucky; and GENIA S. ELAM, 31, of Richmond, Kentucky, on charges of trafficking oxycodone. They were arraigned today before United States Magistrate Judge Gerrilyn G. Brill. ANDERSON was ordered to be detained pending trial, and ELAM is detained pending her bond hearing which is now scheduled for tomorrow, May 13, 2011, at 11 a.m.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court, ANDERSON and ELAM allegedly traveled from Kentucky to the Atlanta area in February 2011, and purchased from an undercover agent approximately 170 sham oxycodone tablets, which they planned to re-sell for profit throughout Kentucky. ANDERSON and ELAM were indicted on one count of conspiracy to possess oxycodone with intent to distribute and one count of attempting to possess oxycodone with intent to distribute. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Louis Crisostomo and is being investigated by Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictments described in this release only contain charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
DEA Atlanta’s Field Division’s SAC Rodney G. Benson encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.