published Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Georgia professor turns himself in to face charges

ATHENS, Ga. — A University of Georgia professor accused of asking a student to buy prescription drugs for him while she visited Mexico during spring break has surrendered to authorities.

Psychology professor Charles Eugene Lance, of Lawrenceville, was released on bond from the Clarke County jail Friday.

Lance faces a charge of criminal attempt to obtain a dangerous drug through fraudulent means. He gave the student $120 in cash to purchase the drug, according to a police report.

Lance's lawyer, Elizabeth Grant, said the charges involve "common prescription drugs" and are not controlled substances. A medication marketed in the U.S. as Wellbutrin is the drug involved in the allegation, she said. Wellbutrin is commonly used as an antidepressant, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Grant said her client looks forward to defending himself in court, and plans to appeal his suspension from the university.

"Dr. Lance has been a member of the UGA psychology faculty for more than two decades," Grant said in a statement to The Associated Press. "He has a long history of scholarship and academic accomplishments. Dr. Lance is saddened, and regretful for these recent events."

The student wondered if by refusing the request she might be hurt academically, University Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said. She told faculty about the request and they reported it to police.

The police chief said the student faced potential trouble with authorities in Mexico and the United States if she attempted to purchase the drug.

Lance faces three other counts of having prescription drugs outside of their original container after campus police searched his office and said they found other prescription drugs in a briefcase.

Those charges "involve prescription medication being consolidated in a single bottle instead of stored in individual prescription bottles," Grant said in the statement. "Many Georgians don't realize the law requires them to keep prescriptions in their original labeled bottle rather than consolidating different prescriptions into one container."

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