DTF busts 3-person pill ring

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Drug Task Force agents announced Wednesday they have shut down a prescription pill operation involving three Andalusia residents.

Sgt. Ray Dixon said the three individuals — identified as 27-year-old Ginnie Louise Bennett, her husband, 35-year-old Christopher Ray Bennett, and 27-year-old Cornelia Anne Messick — are charged with obtaining fake prescriptions for Lortab pills.

Dixon explained how the three obtained the pills.

“Mrs. Bennett, who was employed at a local health care office, would call in a fraudulent prescription to the targeted pharmacy in either her name, her husband’s name or Ms. Messick’s name,” Dixon said. “Mrs. Bennett had also taken a legitimate prescription that had been signed by her employer, copied it and then cut off and used the signature portion to make additional signed and blank prescription forms. When necessary, she would fill the fraudulent prescriptions as verification of the ‘prescription’ that she called in and would fax it to the respective pharmacy.”

Dixon said the person for whom the prescription was written would then pick it up at the pharmacy.

“Then they would split them,” he said.

Dixon said the trio used six different pharmacies and alternated whose name was used on the prescription to avoid detection by the pharmacy.

“Even the most diligent pharmacy or pharmacist would have a difficult time being able to see that this was going on,” he said.

Dixon said the scheme was discovered by one of Bennett’s co-workers, who reported it “immediately.”

Ginnie Bennett is charged with 35 counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and 17 counts of third-degree forgery; Christopher Bennett is charged with 17 counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, and Messick is charged with 14 counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

“Drug addicts are extremely clever and are always figuring out ways to obtain their drug of choice,” he said. “Our pharmacies have been extremely cooperative in our efforts to monitor the purchase of pseudoephederine in this county and we know that they will continue to do so when it comes to individuals obtaining prescription drugs illegally.”

District attorney Greg Gambril said the case demonstrated the county’s prescription pill abuse problem.

“When it comes to this type of drug abuse, we are dealing with a different breed of dealer, a different breed of user and a different breed of drugs than we are when we are combating meth, marijuana and crack,” Gambril said.

He said he urged all physicians, nurses, medical employees and pharmacy employees to “keep their eyes open at all times for anything that appears out of the ordinary.”

He also urged citizens to safeguard home medications to prevent people “from stealing a a few pills here and there right out from under their very noses.”