published Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Three in North Georgia facing charges in oxycodone case

Two former pharmacists in Chatsworth, Ga., and a suspended Dalton High School bus driver will head to court next week, accused of stealing and reselling oxycodone.

Sheila Cagle and Amy Bearden, employees at Living Well Pharmacy, bus driver Amy Johnson, and Jeremiah Fiek are each facing five counts of distribution and one count of conspiracy, the indictment shows.

Cagle and Bearden are accused of stealing oxycodone from Living Well in May and early June, court documents show. Cagle sold the painkillers to Johnson who then resold them to Fiek, the documents claim.

Prosecutors said they couldn't comment on whether Johnson was also selling drugs to students.

Johnson, an eight-year employee with First Student, a transportation company that contracts with Dalton Public Schools for buses, is suspended without pay. School they haven't been informed of any illegal activity at the high school and First Student officials said they are also doing their own internal investigation.

Neither Johnson nor her attorney returned calls seeking comment. Attorneys for Cagle, Bearden and Fiek didn't return calls seeking comment.

All four are scheduled for a pretrial conference on Oct. 17 at the U.S. District Court's Northern District in Rome, Ga.

Living Well Pharmacy owner Paul Bryant said he was approached in April by Drug Enforcement Administration agents, who asked him to monitor his oxycodone supply and later install cameras inside his Chatsworth pharmacy.

Bryant said Wednesday that he didn't believe that Cagle, a four-year employee, or Johnson, a nine-year employee, could be stealing from his store, but he discovered about $6,000 in oxycodone had been taken in a year's time. On the video, he saw the women tossing pill containers into purses, he said.

Federal agents said in the affidavit that Cagle was caught on June 4 delivering painkillers to Johnson near an Ace Hardware store in Dalton. Later, when Johnson was interviewed, she said she received the drugs on consignment and was expected to pay Cagle $1,500 at a later date, court document state.

Fiek also later admitted he went to Johnson's house to buy drugs from her to resell, according to the affidavit.

After Bearden and Cagle were confronted by federal agents, Bryant said they immediately surrendered their pharmacy licenses to the State Board of Pharmacy.

But Bryant said it's still hard to believe that two pharmacists who were loved by the local community could have committed such crimes.

"It's surreal," he said. "The customers didn't understand."

about Joy Lukachick...

Joy Lukachick is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing ...

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