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51 DEFENDANTS CHARGED IN MULTIPLE NARCOTIC PRESCRIPTION DRUG TRAFFICKING CASES

January 20, 2012

Little Rock - Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and William J. Bryant, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Little Rock District Office (DEA) announced a Superseding Indictment was unsealed today charging twenty-three defendants with multiple charges in a narcotic prescription drug conspiracy in an operation dubbed Big 80's.

The sixty-five count Indictment handed down by a Federal Grand on Jury January 10, 2012, charges 20 defendants with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute oxycodone. Four defendants are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute hydrocodone. Six defendants are charged with distribution or aiding and abetting distribution of oxycodone. The remaining counts in the indictment are for various possession of oxycodone charges and for use of telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime. (See defendant/charge list attached.)

Big 80s is an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation that began March 2010. It is called Big 80s because the oxycodone pills most valued and sought by abusers are the 80 mg pills. It developed into multiple cases involving law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels. This indictment is the largest case to date from that investigation.

The investigation was conducted by the DEA, FBI - Little Rock Field Office, U.S. Marshal, Little Rock Police Department, Sherwood Police Department, North Little Rock Police Department, Maumelle Police Department, and Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patricia S. Harris and First Assistant United States Attorney Jane W. Duke.

In addition to the indictment issued January 10, 2012 naming 23 defendants, the Grand Jury for the Eastern District of Arkansas has returned indictments against 27 defendants on charges of prescription narcotic drug trafficking in 5 separate indictments between February and December 2011. Also, 1 defendant waived indictment and entered a guilty plea to an information in April 2011 charging her with conspiracy to possess oxycodone with intent to distribute.

U.S. v. Suarez, Case No. 4:11-CR-00290

On December 6, 2011, the Grand Jury for the Eastern District of Arkansas returned a twenty-six count indictment in U.S. v. Suarez, Case No. 4:11-CR-00290, charging one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone and twenty-five counts of possession with intent to distribute oxycodone. (See Suarez Case list attached for individual names and charges.)

In a detention hearing held on December 28, 2011, before Judge Jerome Kearney, DEA Diversion Investigator Shelli Chupik testified regarding the general operation of the conspiracy. Claudia Suarez owns Holy Medical Clinic in Houston, Texas. Other members of the conspiracy would contact Suarez to obtain fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances, including oxycodone, for approximately $200 per prescription. The prescriptions were written using the name and DEA number of Dr. Robert Wilkerson, who has stated that he did not write or authorize the prescriptions. Daniel Springstun was the middle-man between Suarez and Dennis Destefano, who recruited other members of the conspiracy to provide their personal information to obtain prescriptions. Upon receipt of the prescriptions, the individuals who had provided their personal information would fill the prescription and provide the pills for distribution in exchange for a portion of the pills or money.

This case was investigated by the DEA-Houston Field Division Tactical Diversion Squad; DEA Lafayette Resident Office; 16th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney; 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force; Arkansas State Police-Criminal Investigation Division, Company F; Highland Police Department; Fulton County Sheriff’s Office; Salem Police Department; South Central Missouri Drug Task Force and the United States Secret Service, Houston, TX. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Mazzanti.

US v. Grant & Webster, 4:11CR00243 SWW
Edward Earl Grant, 47, of Eudora, Arkansas, and Lawrence Webster, 32, of Eudora, were indicted on November 1, 2011, in a five-count indictment charging 1 count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone and four counts of possession with intent to distribute oxycodone.

U.S. v. Crocker et al, 4:11CR00026 BSM - 21 count indictment returned February 2, 2011. Defendants were Charles Andrew Crocker, 33, of Maumelle; William Thomas, 27, of Sherwood; Shane Tropf, 31, of Little Rock; and Joshua Reeder, 29, of Maumelle. Crocker pled guilty on 9/20/11 to conspiracy to possess oxycodone with intent to distribute. Thomas, Tropf, and Reeder pled guilty to use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime. All await sentencing. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

U.S. v. Clark & Hulsey, 4:11CR00082 JLH - 10 count indictment returned April 5, 2011. Charges are conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone. Defendants are Courtney Clark (who is also indicted in the January 10, 2012 indictment), and Geoffrey Kyle Hulsey. Both defendants are awaiting trial. This is a DEA case and is related to the Big 80s investigation.

U.S. v. Moore, et al, 4:10CR00294 JLH - 4 count superseding indictment returned April 5, 2011. Defendants are James Lee Moore, Jr., Kameron Norris, Enjolee Clark, and Brian Wheeler. Moore and Norris pled guilty on September 20, 2011 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of oxycodone. Clark pled guilty on November 7, 2011 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of hydrocodone. Moore, Norris, and Clark await sentencing. The case against Wheeler is pending. This is a DEA case and is related to the Big 80s investigation.

U.S. v. Russell, 4:11CR00088 SWW - waiver of indictment and plea to 1 count Information charging conspiracy to possess oxycodone with intent to distribute. Russell, 42, of Maumelle, was an unlicensed nurse at Maumelle Medical Clinic who wrote and sold fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone. Judge Wright sentenced Russell on August 29, 2011 to 36 months in the Bureau of Prisons. This is a DEA case and is related to the Big 80s investigation.

“Abuse of prescription drugs, especially by Arkansas’ youth, is the fastest growing illicit drug problem our state faces. Fully 20% of high school seniors in Arkansas admit to having abused prescription drugs,” stated Thyer. “These alarming statistics point to the unmistakable conclusion that we have a problem that must be addressed immediately. That is why I am pleased to announce not only these indictments but also that my office in conjunction with Conner Eldredge, the U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Arkansas; Fran Flener, Arkansas Drug Director and others are hosting a statewide summit this Spring that I hope will foster a better understanding of the problem and present workable solutions to it.”

Bryant added, “Prescription drug abuse plagues our streets with violence and touches every level of society. In addition to dismantling the distribution and supply networks, law enforcement in Arkansas is taking steps in partnership with local, state and national community partners to provide a safe means for the disposal of unwanted, unused prescription medications through the Drug Take-Back Day initiative. Last year, 188.5 tons of medications were turned in nationwide - medications that won’t be available for sale on the street.”

An indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

DEFENDANTS/CHARGES in BIG 80's case

Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute oxycodone:
Johnnie Campbell, 25, of North Little Rock;
Eric Baldwin, 23, of Little Rock;
Tommy Bryles, 24, of Little Rock;
Courtney Clark, 27, of Little Rock;
Keith Coleman, 34, of Augusta;
Kimberly Renee Coleman, 30, of Augusta;
Benjamin Druff, 23, of Little Rock;
Labrons Dominique Ellington, 21, of North Little Rock;
Joseph Galburth, III, 26, of Little Rock;
Richard Hawkins, 46, of Little Rock;
Anthony Hill, 24, of Little Rock;
Terrell Keener, 25, of Little Rock;
Steven Marcus Knight, 22, of Sherwood;
Joseph Leath, 21, of Little Rock;
Cory Oulette, 24, of Sherwood;
Keithen Pettus, 30, of North Little Rock;
John Stockard, 24, of North Little Rock;
Andrew Tubbs, 24, of Little Rock;
Michael Watkins, 28, of Maumelle; and
Joseph Pierre Williams, 28, of Little Rock.

Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute hydrocodone:
Johnnie Campbell;
Keithen Pettus;
Shonte Frazier, 35, of North Little Rock; and
William Teague, 34, of Little Rock.

In addition to the conspiracy charges, the following defendants are also charged with the following crimes: Campbell, distribution of oxycodone (10 counts), possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute (6 counts), use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (1 count), and possessing a prohibited item while an inmate (1 count);

Baldwin, distribution of oxycodone (1 count); Bryles, possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute (1 count);

Kimberly Coleman,distribution of oxycodone (3 counts), use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (2 counts), and theft of U.S. funds (1 count);

Keith Coleman, who is married to Kimberly Coleman, aiding and abetting the distribution of oxycodone (1 count);

Ellington, possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute (1 count);

Galburth, distribution of oxycodone (8 counts);

Hawkins, possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute (1 count);

Hill, possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute (1 count);

Keener, use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (1 count), and distribution of oxycodone (1 count);

Knight,use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (1 count);

Leath,possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute (1 count);

Oulette, use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (1 count);

Pettus, distribution of oxycodone (2 counts), possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute (3 counts), and use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (3 counts);

Stockard, use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (1 count);

Tubbs, use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (5 counts);

Warner, use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (6 counts);

Watkins, possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute (1 count), attempt to possess oxycodone with intent to distribute (1 count), and use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (1 count); and

Williams,possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute (1 count), and use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (1 count).

SUAREZ CASE

Claudia Suarez - 51, of Houston, Texas, is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone.

The following defendants are all charged in the conspiracy count, as well as the indicated number of counts of possession with intent to distribute oxycodone:
Daniel Springstun, 47, of Salem, Arkansas (2 counts);
Dennis Destefano, 46, of Hardy, Arkansas (2 counts);
Jennifer Destefano, 35, of Hardy, Arkansas (1 count);
Ernest Richard, 26, of Salem, Arkansas (2 counts);
Jared Greene, 34, of Morse, Louisiana (1 count);
Lynsay Henry, 25, of Cherokee Village, Arkansas (2 counts);
Nancy Ashcraft, 34, of Cherokee Village, Arkansas (2 counts);
Stephen Sims, 26, of Hardy, Arkansas (6 counts);
Wesley McBroome, 24, of Cherokee Village, Arkansas (2 counts);
Edward Fletcher, 50, of Salem, Arkansas (1 count);
Jessica LeJeune Greene, 29, of Morse, Louisiana (1 count);
Shannon Pittman, 33, of Glenco, Arkansas (1 count);
Sammy Jo Destefano, 26, of Hardy, Arkansas (1 count); and
Traverse Tacker, 32, of Jonesboro, Arkansas (1 count).

STATUTORY SENTENCES

Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute oxycodone, possession or attempted possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, and distribution of oxycodone are not more than 20 years incarceration in the Bureau of Prisons with a possible fine of up to $1,000,000, and not less than 3 years supervised release on each count.

Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute hydrocodone are not more than 5 years incarceration in the Bureau of Prisons with a possible fine of up to $250,000, and at least 2 years supervised release.

Use of a communication facility to facilitate a drug trafficking crime are not more than 4 years incarceration in the Bureau of Prisons with a possible fine of up to $250,000, and not more than 1 year supervised release.

Possession of a prohibited object by an inmate are not more than 20 years incarceration in the Bureau of Prisons with a possible fine of up to $250,000, and not more than 3 years supervised release.

Misdemeanor theft of U.S. funds are not more than 1 year incarceration at the Bureau of Prisons with a possible fine of up to $100,000, and not more than 1 year supervised release.


(Pill Big 80s Campbell IndictmentAdobe Icon Image)

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Christopher R. Thyer

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