published Friday, July 6th, 2012

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office deputy arrested on prescription drug fraud charge

A former Hamilton County Sheriff's Office deputy who fractured her back 10 years ago while going over a second-story balcony with a suspect was arrested on the Fourth of July on charges of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.

Lori Pickett, 49, is accused of trying to pass a fraudulent prescription in Walgreens at 5301 Ringgold Road for 20 oxycodone pills. She was released after posting a $1,000 bond.

Deputies normally are placed on paid leave until their first court appearance when arrested, but because Pickett's court date on the prescription arrest is not set until Aug. 21, Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said the sheriff's office must look at her case to determine her pay status.

As a result of her arrest this week, the sheriff's office also will conduct its own internal investigation, he said.

On Thursday, Pickett said that, after her back injury while on duty, she has remained in chronic pain despite surgery.

About a decade ago, Pickett said she responded to a call with a fellow deputy near Birchwood Pike. The suspect was acting combative by continually striking the other deputy on the head. Pickett jumped on his back and the suspect went over the balcony with her, she said. As a result, she fractured her back and damaged a couple of her vertebral discs, she said.

"I've done everything, and there's nothing that can be done," she said in a phone interview.

She called the pharmacy incident "just a mix-up."

"That should be straightened out," she said.

The East Ridge Police Department affidavit of complaint states that the signature on the prescription presented by Pickett did not match her doctor's usual signature. Pickett told officers she received the prescription from one of the doctor's nurses.

The prescription was placed in her daughter's name and Pickett gave other inconsistent statements, the police record says.

Pickett said she recently divorced her husband, Hamilton County Courts Officer Jim Pickett, and has had issues with her insurance, according to the report.

Lori Pickett was arrested in February 2011 for assaulting her ex-husband outside Hamilton County Juvenile Court after she heard he was having an affair. She qualified for judicial diversion -- that allows first-time offenders to have charges expunged from their records if certain conditions are met. Pickett had the case expunged from her record after good behavior.

After the 2011 incident, she was placed on desk duty with the sheriff's office, working in records. Pickett said administrators demoted her last week from a law enforcement officer to a records clerk and cut her pay because she refused to work inside the jail.

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