13 arrested in prescription drug forgery ring bust
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
March 02, 2013 12:14 AM | 9172 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A five-month investigation by the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad resulted in 13 arrests in a prescription forgery ring bust.

Based on the investigation, agents estimate that about 8,000 pills reached the street level in Cherokee County, C-MANS Commander Phil Price said.

“We’ve had problems with these forgery rings working out of the area for a while now,” Price said. “The trend is that people who want to use pharmaceuticals have to find some way to get it, and this is one of the avenues.”

Lt. Jay Baker, spokesman with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, said the forgery ring operated in Cherokee County for more than a year.

“Agents were alerted when prescriptions were passed in Cherokee County which were determined to be fraudulent,” Baker said.

In this case, Price said his agency was tipped off with the information, but that is generally not so easy in these types of cases.

“It’s such an under-the-radar type of thing,” Price said. “We do see a lot of prescription medications on the street and that is largely because of groups like these going through the kinks in the system and getting dope where other people are having to go out and buy it on the street corner.”

Price added that unless pharmacists notice a trend, nothing is flagged.

“There is no prescription monitoring system in Georgia,” he said. “It just happened we got information on this group.”

The investigation resulted in the arrest of 13 people charged with a combined total of 74 felonies.

“Ultimately C-MANS agents expect over 200 charges to be presented to a Cherokee grand jury,” Baker said.

One of those arrested is licensed nurse practitioner Kathryn Shoemaker, who had access to documents and information believed to have facilitated the crimes, Baker said.

Shoemaker, a 66-year-old Canton resident, is charged with 15 counts of forgery in the first degree. She remains in custody at the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center on $36,000 bond, he said.

Shoemaker is additionally under administrative investigation by the Secretary of State and has had her license administratively revoked, police said.

Additional arrests according to the Sheriff’s Office include:

Christopher Mason, 50, of Canton, is charged with 15 counts of forgery in the first degree. He remains in custody at the Cherokee ADC with a $36,000 bond.

Mason’s son, Christopher Dante Mason, 25, of Canton, is charged with 11 counts of forgery in the first degree. He remains in custody at Cherokee ADC with a $26,400 bond.

Kimberly Morgan, 45, of Woodstock, is charged with three counts of forgery in the first degree. She remains in custody at Cherokee ADC with $7,200 bond.

Joel Hufstetler, 47, of Canton, is charged with two counts of possession of dangerous drugs, drugs to be kept in original container, possession of methamphetamine, loitering and prowling and one count of forgery. He remains in custody at Cherokee ADC with a $16,320 bond.

Ramona Setser, 43, of Holly Springs, is charged with possession of heroin, possession of methamphetamine, possession of a Schedule II drug, possession of a Schedule III drug, possession of a Schedule IV drug, violation of probation and three counts of forgery in the first degree. She remains in custody at Cherokee ADC with no bond.

Jerry Pressley, 31, of Ball Ground, is charged with possession of oxycodone, possession of alprozolam, sale of methamphetamine, violation of probation and one count of forgery in the first degree. He remains in custody at Cherokee ADC with no bond.

Courtney Chapman, 26, of Canton, is charged with five counts of forgery in the first degree. She remains in custody at Cherokee ADC with a $12,000.00 bond.

Rachel Bramlett, 43, of Canton, is charged with possession of methamphetamine and one count of forgery in the first degree. She was released Tuesday on a $13,600 bond.

Terry Phyfe, 60, of Canton, is charged with three counts of forgery in the first degree. He remains in custody at Cherokee ADC with a $7,200.00 bond.

Regina Lawson, 44, of Canton, is charged with one count of forgery in the first degree. She was released Tuesday on a $2,400.00 bond.

Christopher Prince, 35, of Canton, is charged with five counts of forgery in the first degree and violation of probation. He remains in custody at Cherokee ADC with no bond.

Ronald Rigdon, 61 years old, of Canton, is charged with one count of forgery in the first degree. He was released on Thursday on a $2,400 bond.

Baker said additional arrests are expected as the investigation continues.

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