When someone observed an apparent drug transaction last November in the parking lot at Bostian Elementary School in China Grove, North Carolina, the observer alerted a police officer.
It turned out a teacher was just selling or buying a car – but a detective’s lingering questions reached an informant, whose tip helped open a four-month investigation that alleges several teachers and staff members were indeed involved in a scheme to illegally obtain prescription painkillers.
On Monday, a Rowan County grand jury indicted three teachers and five others, alleging that teacher Abby Walker and her doctor-husband, Orrin Walker, had conspired with colleagues and friends who lent their names to illegally fill 200 fake prescriptions that yielded 25,000 doses of hydrocodone to feed their own drug habits, reports ABC News.
The drugs were not sold, but instead were picked up and dropped off at the home of Abby, 44, who was a second-grade teacher at Bostian, and her husband Orrin, 48, a general practitioner who operated Main Street Family Practice. Both were charged with trafficking opiates by possession.
Authorities say Abby enlisted co-workers to obtain the prescriptions from Dr. Walker, reports WCCB. None of the other six who were charged knew anyone else was involved, an investigator said, and some thought they were helping friends by allowing the Walkers to use their names on the prescriptions.
Charged with conspiracy to commit prescription fraud/forgery, according to authorities: Meredith Raynes, 43, another teacher at Bostian; and Tammy Eudy, 45, and Alisha Christian, 31, both teaching assistants at the school. In addition, charges were filed against Sumner Thomason, 31, a teacher at Southside Christian Academy in Salisbury, North Carolina, and Teresa Seagroves, 53, an administrative assistant at McKnight Child Development Center in Kannapolis, North Carolina. An eighth named person, Crystal Maness, 31, is not an educator.
“At no time was the safety of any child who attended these schools impacted by the actions of these individuals,” investigators said.
A Resignation and a Surrender
Police said Abby Walker resigned her teaching job in the spring. State medical records reviewed by the Charlotte Observer show Orrin Walker has surrendered his license.
“Now that we have the employee names,” said Rowan-Salisbury Schools Superintendent Lynn Moody in a statement to the newspaper, “we can move forward with our own investigation and appropriate personnel action.”
Meanwhile, the community 35 miles northeast of Charlotte was started by the revelations.
“It’s crazy,” Lauren Merrifield, an employee of Main Street Tobacco in China Grove, told the Observer. “These people are supposed to be upstanding citizens, doctors and teachers.”