Police break up out-of-state drug ring

Published 9:39 am Wednesday, November 23, 2011

FRANKLIN—Franklin police, with the help of local pharmacists, broke up an alleged out-of-state prescription drug ring after five suspects repeatedly attempted to get painkillers from Walmart, Walgreens and Rite-Aid.

“We’ve gotten information that this stretched from Emporia to Virginia Beach,” said Lt. Tim Whitt. “It appears it’s a ring that was passing fraudulent prescriptions.”

Charged in the ring were Anthony W. Polley, 40, of Winchester, Ky.; and Victor George Price, 54; John Phillip Grizzaffi, 52; Lawaun Demont Divens, 35; and Andra Jean Bowman, 51; all of Columbus, Ohio.

Whitt said he understands local pharmacists, like Courtney Councill at Walgreens, were on the lookout for fraudulent prescriptions from Florida.

“Sharon Hasty (pharmacy manager at Walgreens) passed it (to be aware) on to us,” Councill said. “There were certain prescriptions from the Florida area that were written from a pain clinic and they were all on the same prescription paper, and they were for the same four medications.”

The prescriptions were for painkillers and anxiety medication, she said.

One of the suspects went to Walgreens and had the prescription filled, Councill said.

“We got in contact with the doctors and police were called and they arrested the gentleman,” she said.

Other suspects were denied requests to have their prescriptions filled, Councill said.

“It’s an apparent drug ring up and down (Interstate) 95,” she noted.

Polley was arrested on Nov. 10, while the four other suspects were nabbed on Friday, Whitt said. Police at 12:25 p.m. responded to Walmart after receiving information of fraudulent prescriptions being passed. When police arrived, they confronted and arrested Price.

During this investigation it was learned that Grizzaffi, Divens and Bowman had attempted to pass prescriptions at Walgreens and Rite Aid, Whitt said.

“The (three) suspects arrived at Walmart with the intention of picking up their associate (Price), and when confronted by officers, they attempted to flee,” Whitt said. “The vehicle was quickly stopped, and after the investigation, three other individuals were placed into custody. The people were attempting to obtain the pain medication Oxycodone.”

A search of their vehicle turned up nothing, he said.

The suspects were charged with prescription forgery, prescription fraud and attempting to obtain the administration of a drug or controlled substance by the forgery or alteration of a prescription or written order.

All were taken to Western Tidewater Regional Jail.