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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                          July 29, 2013                   

AUTO MECHANIC WHO SOLD PRESCRIPTION PAIN PILLS FROM A HUNTINGTON SHOP SENTENCED TO NEARLY 6 YEARS IN PRISON

Vernon Browning funded and organized more than two dozen trips to Georgia to get painkillers to sell

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – An automotive shop technician who led a scheme to obtain prescription painkiller pills from Atlanta and later had them brought back to Huntington to sell was sentenced today to five years and ten months in federal prison, announced U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.  Vernon Browning, 45, of South Point, OH, previously pleaded guilty in April to distribution of oxycodone.  Browning began funding and organizing dozens of trips to Atlanta to obtain oxycodone and oxymorphone pills in 2008. 

The pills were later brought back to the Little Garage on the Corner automotive shop in Huntington where Browning and his associates stored and illegally sold the pills. 

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said, “Mr. Browning evidently wasn’t just fixing cars; he was fueling an illegal pill trafficking enterprise.” Goodwin continued, “Fighting the pill epidemic has been my office’s leading priority. Pill dealers will be caught and they will be prosecuted.” 

In March 2012, Browning sold 18 30-milligram oxymorphone pills to a confidential informant working for the Huntington Drug and Violent Crime Task Force in exchange for $990.  The illegal pill transaction took place at the garage. 

During the scheme, Browning rented vehicles for the trips to Atlanta and helped associates obtain driver’s licenses in an effort to get legitimate prescriptions from Georgia doctors.  Also, between January 2012 and July 2012, Browning rented hotel rooms on 32 different occasions and typically paid for the room rentals in cash. 

On February 24, 2012, law enforcement agents conducted a controlled purchase of two oxymorphone pills from Browning.  The transaction took place at Browning’s South Point residence.  On March 3, 2013, Browning rented a vehicle and traveled to Georgia to obtain pain pills.  After obtaining the pills, Browning shipped the 240 30-milligram oxycodone pills from Georgia to his South Point residence.  The shipment of pills was intercepted by police.    

The Huntington Violent Crime and Drug Task Force conducted the investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney Gregory McVey handled the prosecution.  The sentence was imposed by Chief United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers. 

This case was prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers in communities across the Southern District. 

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