This week, authorities arrested a 66 year-old veteran nurse practitioner from Cherokee County in connection with an alleged illegal prescription drug operation.
Kathryn Shoemaker is accused of forging doctors’ signatures in order to fill fraudulent drug prescriptions at nearly a dozen drug stores over a 12-month period. She is facing 15 counts of first degree forgery—a felony offense.
According to the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad, Shoemaker’s specialized knowledge of prescription writing and her access to the required documents enabled her to play an instrumental role in the operation. According to the authorities, Shoemaker used a variety of doctors’ names to create the prescriptions on a computer. She knew the correct verbiage and the appropriate DEA numbers to make the prescriptions appear legitimate. According to investigators, none of the doctors whose names were used on the scripts had any knowledge of them. Members of the narcotics squad first uncovered the operation after an involved party came forward, and they had been investigating the case for the past 5 months.
Shoemaker’s companion, 50 year-old Christopher Mason has also been charged with 15 counts of first degree forgery.
Authorities claim that over 200 fraudulent prescriptions were filled to obtain 8,000 doses of medications such as Xanax, Percocet, and Hydrocodone. The estimated street value of the pills exceeds $120,000.
Shoemaker allegedly “recruited” a dozen acquaintances to serve as “runners” who took the fraudulent prescriptions created by Shoemaker to various drug stores to be filled and then sold the pills on the street. Thirteen individuals in total have been arrested in connection with the case and investigators believe more arrests may be made. The case could result in more than 200 felony charges.
Shoemaker was charged with 15 counts of first degree forgery. Under O.C.G.A. § 16-9-1, a person is guilty of first degree forgery when she, with the intent to defraud, “knowingly makes, alters, or possesses any writing” either in a fictitious name or that purports to have been made by another person. Under O.C.G.A § 16-9-2, a person convicted of this offense can receive a sentence of imprisonment of not less than one nor more than 15 years.
It is also possible that Shoemaker and the others will be charged with conspiracy to distribute dangerous drugs (O.C.G.A. § 16-13-72) as well as the separate offense of obtaining dangerous drugs by fraud or forgery (O.C.G.A. § 16-13-78).
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