ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. - A Rowan County doctor and his wife have been accused of being involved in a major prescription pill scheme.
Police said the couple convinced teachers and staff from several local schools to help them get their hands on 25,000 powerful painkillers.
Channel 9 anchor Allison Latos has been investigating how police said the operation lasted more than a year.
A grand jury indicted China Grove doctor Orrin Walker, his wife, Abby Walker, and six other people -- most of whom are teachers and employees at three local schools.
China Grove police said that for more than a year Orrin and Abby orchestrated a major prescription pill operation to feed their own addictions.
Police Chief Eddie Kluttz said Abby Walker was a teacher at Bostian Elementary and she convinced three co-workers -- Meredith Raynes, Alisha Christian, Tammy Eudy and Teresa Seagroves (the administrative assistant at McKnight school in Kannapolis) -- to help her obtain pain medication.
In addition, police said Summer Thomason, a teacher at Southside Christian Academy in Salisbury and a friend, Crystal Maness, helped Walker and her husband, a physician at Main Street Family Practice, get their hands on the hydrocodone pills.
“He would write the prescriptions in their names. They would pick them up and in turn, turn the medications over to her,” Kluttz said. “The information was exchanged at the schools.”
Kluttz said he was not aware of people taking the pills at the schools and the SBI told Channel 9 that no pills were exchanged on school property.
Some residents of Rowan County were shocked to hear about the alleged crime.
"If they're doing this then obviously we don't need them teaching our children," said parent Karen Lucy.
Officers do not believe children were ever in danger but Rowan-Salisbury School Board member Chuck Hughes is extremely concerned that teachers and employees are accused of illegally obtaining the painkillers.
“It is betrayal of that responsibility,” Hughes said.
Hughes plans to push for changes at the school board meeting Thursday.
“I want to push that we do routine random drug testing on every school employee and that means the school board,” Hughes said. “I’m willing to do the test also.”
Ronald Peeler was one of Walker's patients.
“He took care of me as far as my medical history. He took care of me,” Peeler said.
But he and a neighbor of the Walker’s, Mary Austin, weren't surprised to hear of the trafficking charges.
“Not surprised,” Austin said. “I had heard that was going on. It should have been stopped before now.”
China Grove police said all of the suspects are cooperating. They have attorneys and have agreed to turn themselves in at the magistrate's office starting Wednesday.
If the Walkers are convicted of 'Level Three' trafficking, they face mandatory prison time.
Soon after China Grove police started their investigation in March, Orrin Walker surrendered his medical license and his wife resigned from teaching at Bostian Elementary.
Rowan-Salisbury School officials told Channel 9 they are investigating. Eudy has been suspended without pay. The district is working to contact Christian and Raynes.
Channel 9 called Kannapolis and Southside Christian schools to ask if the other teachers and staff will still be employed but have not heard back.
The other individuals who were accused of participanting in this scheme:
- Meredith Wiggins Raynes 43, teacher, Bostian Elementary School
- Alisha Beaver Christian 31, teacher’s assistant, Bostian Elementary School
- Tammy Aldridge Eudy 45, teacher’s assistant, Bostian Elementary School
- Teresa Beaver Seagroves 53, administrative assistant, McKnight School, Kannapolis
- Summer Knight Thomason 31, educator, Southside Christian Academy, Salisbury
- Crystal Elizabeth Maness 31, (not employed as an educator) Salisbury