Doctor, educators in alleged drug fraud scheme face magistrate
SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - 8 people, including a medical doctor and six educators, have turned themselves into police to face charges in a prescription drug ring in Rowan County.
Thursday afternoon, Dr. Orrin Walker was the last to go before a magistrate. Accompanied by his lawyer, Todd Paris, Walker did not answer any questions. He was jailed under a bond of $150,000.
Thursday morning Alisha Beaver Christian, a former teacher's assistant at Bostian Elementary, and Summer Knight Thomason, an educator at Southside Christian Academy, turned themselves in at the magistrate's office.
On Wednesday, Dr. Walker's wife, Abby Walker, Meredith Raynes, Tammy Eudy, and Teresa Beaver Seagroves all came to the Magistrate's Office to face charges in the case. Crystal Elizabeth Maness turned herself in on Tuesday night.
The SBI, along with police in China Grove and Landis, conducted a four-month investigation into Dr. Orrin Walker. Walker is a practicing general physician in China Grove.
According to investigators, Abby Walker was a teacher at Bostian Elementary School and sought out co-workers and friends to agree to get fake prescriptions of Hydrocodone.
Investigators say seven people agreed to get prescriptions of Hydrocodone called in to Rowan County pharmacies. The people were not legitimate patients of Dr. Walker.
The seven would allegedly pick up the prescriptions and drop them off at the Walkers' home.
In total, the scheme landed more than 200 fake prescriptions, resulting in 25,000 doses of Hydrocodone, investigators say.
According to investigators, the drug scheme ran from October 2012 until March 2014.
Detectives said the investigation started last November when someone at the school thought they saw a drug transaction in the school parking lot and told an officer.
It turns out it wasn't what it seemed, instead one of the teachers was selling or buying a car.
The detective started wondering why the witness would think it was a drug deal. After looking into it, he hit dead ends and stopped in January.
On February 18, an informant gave the detective some info and he officially opened the case.
According to the investigator, none of the six teachers knew the other teachers were involved.
Some simply thought they were helping friends by letting the doctor and his wife use their names for prescriptions.
Others were using pills as well, investigators say.
Abby Walker was a teacher at Bostian Elementary School at the time of the scheme. Police say she has since resigned from her position.
Police say six of the seven other people involved were educators in the Rowan-Salisbury School System.
Charged were 43-year-old Meredith Wiggins Raynes, 31-year-old Alisha Beaver Christian, 45-year-old Tammy Aldridge Eudy, 53-year-old Teresa Beaver Seagroves and 31-year-old Summer Knight Thomason.
Raynes was a teacher at Bostian Elementary. Christian and Eudy were teachers' assistants at Bostian Elementary.
Seagroves was an administrative assistant at McKnight School in Kannapolis. Thomason was an educator at Southside Christian Academy in Salisbury.
A seventh person, 31-year-old Crystal Elizabeth Maness, who is not an educator, was charged as well.
A Rowan County Grand Jury returned indictments against all eight on Monday, investigators say.
Orrin and Abby Walker were charged with trafficking opiates, the other six with conspiracy to commit prescription fraud.
"At no time was the safety of any child who attended these schools impacted by the actions of these individuals," investigators said.
Main Street Family Practice, where Dr. Walker worked, and the Rowan-Salisbury School district "fully cooperated" with investigators.
On Wednesday, Main Street Family Practice issued a statement.
"The health care providers and staff of Main Street Family Practice are shocked and saddened regarding the current events and charges involving Orrin and Abby Walker," they said. "We learned of the investigation from local law enforcement in mid-March and the practice has cooperated fully with law enforcement throughout this investigation."
"Dr. Walker is no longer employed here and no other employees were involved in the criminal activities of the Walkers and have not been targeted in the investigation," the statement continued. "The entire staff remains committed to the total health care of all our patients."
According to Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody, the district found out about the investigation in mid-March when investigators came to Bostian Elementary to interview Abby Walker. Walker was immediately suspended from her teaching position and subsequently resigned.
"Local law enforcement later informed me that the investigation was continuing and could involve other staff members, and I am grateful to them for communicating with me," Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody said Tuesday. "In order to protect the ongoing investigation, law enforcement was unable to share with us the identity of any other suspects until today."
Dr. Moody says now that the school district knows the names, it can move forward with its own investigation.
"Tammy Eudy has been suspended without pay," Moody said. "We are in the process of contacting the others at this time, and cannot yet make any statement about their status."
Eudy had no comment as she was charged Wednesday, but a man who was with Eudy proclaimed her innocence.
"This is America," the man said, "because you're innocent until proven guilty."
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