Jerry Martin, district attorney for Middle Tennessee, discusses the indictment of 33 people in an alleged drug trafficking ring./The Tennessean
By Brandon Gee, The Tennessean
A federal grand jury indicted 33 people in an alleged Crossville-based prescription drug trafficking ring where investigators say they were illegally distributing pain and anti-anxiety medications such as Percocet, Lortab and Xanax.
Some of the defendants have health-care backgrounds and include a certified nurse's aid and a former emergency medical technician. Many of the defendants have previous criminal charges and convictions. Authorities seized more than 1,000 pills, about $335,000 in cash and jewelry, 25 firearms and more than 40 vehicles while executing search warrants on Friday.
The individuals arrested in the conspiracy, all from Crossville, are: Spike William Hedgecoth, 64; Kevin Wade Hedgecoth, 38; Samuel William Hedgecoth, 40; Matthew Lee Cowart, 27; Joseph Allen Cowart, 50; Tommy Mason Rosecrants, 23; Joy Marie Lewis, 23; Howard Wayne Bell, 27; David Franklin King, 69; James Robert "JimBob" Crawford, 30; Kyle Richard Barrier, 26; Emily Carol Bradley, 26; Timothy Richard Forrester, 37; Michael Ray "Jimmy" Gant, 51; Robert Duane "Repo Man" Hicks, 44; James Gale Kennedy, 55; Vanessa Renea "Mama Mims" Mims, 49; James Russell Norris, 46; Tiffany Brook Norris, 22; Marcia Bernice Press, 31; Samuel Douglas "Doug" Profitt, 73; Travis Kurt Profitt, 34; Tresha Mae Sherrill, 35; Christie Louise Whitaker, 32; Kevin James Woody, 30; Courtney Jo Rabideau, 30; James Alan Wyatt, 47.
Federal, state and local authorities are looking for six additional suspects.
Sherrill is a certified nurse aid, according to Tennessee Department of Health records. Barrier was licensed as an emergency medical technician in Florida in 2004, but his license expired in 2006, according to the Florida Department of Health.
The group is accused of conspiring to divert medications from legitimate channels, such as hospitals and pharmacies, for illegal distribution. They sometimes traveled out of state to get prescription medications and sometimes had them sent through the mail.
"In addition, the indictment alleges that some of the co-conspirators threatened the use of violence and actually employed violence to collect drug debts, protect their supply of controlled substances and safeguard their illicit profits," a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office states.
While announcing the charges, Jerry Martin, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, noted the nationwide growth of prescription drug abuse.
"Prescription pill abuse is rampant and has deadly consequences," Martin said. "Alarmingly, Tennessee has the eighth-highest overdose rate in the nation."
Prescription drugs have grown to the second-most abused drug in the country after marijuana, according to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Lawyers for the defendants declined to comment.
Federal public defender Sumter L. Camp, who is representing Spike Hedgecoth, said his client denies the charges.
The federal grand jury indictment also states that the defendants should turn over any and all proceeds of the alleged crimes if convicted, including an estimated $1 million in drug proceeds. If convicted the defendants each face a maximum sentence of 20 years and a $1 million fine.