Major prescription ring broken

Published 2:40 pm Thursday, November 13, 2008

A major prescription drug ring has been broken up by an investigation conducted by the Picayune Police Department.

The investigation began after a Slidell, La., based doctor’s office called the Picayune Police Department to state that one of their employees, 23 year-old Rachel Whitfield, had stolen a prescription pad from the office and was using it to illegally obtain prescription medication. Prescriptions for those medications were allegedly written for herself and other people, the investigation found.

Detective Mike Odom said the investigation turned up enough evidence to press more than 216 counts against Whitfield, who resides at 2057 Sixth St., Slidell, La. Those counts were all for fraud and acquisition of a controlled substance, prescription forgery and conspiracy to possess a controlled substance. She was arrested on Oct. 29. Bond for Whitfield was set at $1,070,807, the largest drug-related bond in city history, Odom said.

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Apparently Whitfield was selling the prescriptions in the parking lot of the doctor’s office where she was working, for the same price as a doctor’s visit, $200, Odom said. A patient noticed the activity and notified office personnel, who fired Whitfield and notified the police, Odom said. Whitfield also is alleged to have gone to people’s houses to write the prescriptions for them in exchange for half of the medication. Medication secured by the suspects in this case included Lortabs, Xanax and Soma, Odom said.

In the past six months, Whitfield is suspected to have made $100,000 selling the medication she wrote prescriptions for to herself. That amount only includes the prescriptions she filled in Picayune pharmacies. Whitfield is believed to have also filled prescriptions in pharmacies located in Slidell, Kiln and Poplarville. Odom said he did not have detailed information about her activities in those areas, but does expect Slidell law enforcement agencies to press about twice the number of charges Picayune has.

A hold has been placed on Whitfield with the Louisiana State Police for her suspected activity in that state.

Whitfield’s arrest led investigators to check into the individuals receiving her prescriptions. That investigation developed 16 other suspects. Some of the suspects have already been picked up or have turned themselves in. Nine suspects are still at large.

“This is the largest prescription forgery ring broken up in city history,” Chief Jim Luke said.

Luke said the bust has caused a big dent in the amount of prescription medication illegally hitting the streets of Picayune.

All of the 16 other suspects also were charged with various numbers of the same count of fraud and acquisition of a controlled substance and prescription forgery and conspiracy to possess a controlled substance as Whitfield, Odom said.

The suspects who have been picked up as part of this investigation since Monday include Jessica Longoria, 25, of 904 Cedar Grove Rd., charged with 72 counts; Eleazar Longoria, 26, of 904 Cedar Grove Rd., 47 counts; Cindy Giluso, 47, of 904 Cedar Grove, 15 counts; Tammy Townsend, 39, of 1 Hunt Rd. 21 counts.

Three individuals turned themselves in on Wednesday, Torri Whitfield, 29, of 715 S. Haugh Ave., 92 counts; Brittany Whitfield, 23, of 200 S. Jackson Ave. 20 counts; Taren Westbrook, 23, 26 Joe R. Lee, Rd., Carriere, 15 counts.

Nine suspects are still at large. Information about their whereabouts can be directed to the Picayune Police Department at 601-798-7411. Those suspects include Chris Jordan, 25, of 3319 Jackson Landing Rd., 20 counts; Nevel Anderson, 25, of 1609 Fifth Ave., 22 counts; Daniel Glover, 34, 267 Magnolia Dr., 5 counts; Cassie Ellingson, 30, of 25067 Road 302, Kiln, 5 counts; Zona Marchand, 26, of 1103 Doverville Court, Slidell, 25 counts; Calvin Falcon, 35, of 2513 Bluebird St., Slidell, 5 counts; Rebecca Marshall, 24, of 65049 Honeysuckle Lane, Slidell, 10 counts; Elise Anclade, 36, of 110 Francis St., Slidell, five counts and Ernest Anclade, 40 2404 Pelican St., Slidell, 21 counts.

Luke said the investigators working the case worked day and night, sometimes on their days off to get the case solved. He appreciates their hard work and the cooperation of the doctor’s office involved and the outside law enforcement agencies.