Warren County Jury Finds Former Deputy Not Guilty in Alleged Drug Trafficking Scheme

January 20, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Larry Pedigo, Jr.

A former DeKalb County Sheriff's deputy, charged in connection with a drug trafficking scheme at a McMinnville clinic in 2009, has been found innocent of the charge against him following a two day jury trial in Warren County Criminal Court this week.

The jury, Thursday afternoon, found Larry Pedigo, Jr. not guilty of fraudulently obtaining drugs (oxycontin) from the Ameri-Care Urgent Care Clinic in McMinnville. He was originally indicted on two counts of delivery of a schedule II narcotic (oxycontin) and two counts of fraudulently obtaining drugs (oxycontin)

Prosecutors alleged that Pedigo had participated in a scheme to obtain oxycontin from Justin Turner, a physician's assistant at the clinic, only to return some of the drugs to Turner, who was believed to have been addicted to the medications and needed them to feed his habit.

Three other officers, who worked for either the McMinnville Police Department or Warren County Sheriff's Department, were also charged in the case along with Turner, clinic employee Marcus Northcutt, among others. Some of the defendants in the case have already been sentenced while others still await trial.

Pedigo, who steadfastly maintained his innocence since being arrested, refused to settle the case, preferring to stand trial. By the time his case went to trial, two of the charges against Pedigo had already been dropped by state prosecutors and another charge was dismissed during the trial at the close of the state's proof after Special Judge Tim Easter granted a motion by Pedigo's attorney, Hilton Conger for a directed verdict. That, said Conger, left only one charge for the jury to consider against Pedigo, one count of obtaining prescription medication by fraud. "The state (previously) dismissed two of the counts against Pedigo because he had an air tight alibi for where he was on the date that they alleged these (crimes) occurred. The judge dismissed the other one, the charge of delivery, upon my motion for a directed verdict at the close of the state's proof. The state had not proven that Junior Pedigo had ever delivered any drugs to Justin Turner, the physician's assistant who worked at Ameri-Care. The charge that went to the jury was one count of obtaining prescription medication (Oxycontin) by fraud, which is a class C felony."

Conger told WJLE Thursday afternoon that Pedigo always maintained that the prescription he was given was for a medical necessity. "He had injured his knee on May, 20th 2009 while working as a detective in DeKalb County. He was making an arrest and tore a cartilage in his knee. It ultimately resulted in surgery to that knee. He was going to this physician's assistant at Ameri-Care for his work comp injury. It was always his insistence that the prescription for oxycontin was written to him for a legitimate medical purpose."

According to Conger the charges against Pedigo and the others was the result of an undercover investigation which began in March, 2009. "An employee of Ameri-Care had contacted the district attorney and reported that Justin Turner was writing prescriptions to patients he was not seeing and for people who did not need them (drugs). There was also an employee, Marcus Northcutt, who was posing as a nurse and dispensing prescriptions. That led to an investigation. During the investigation the names of four police officers surfaced alleging that they were involved in obtaining drugs. The scheme was that the physician's assistant, who was allegedly addicted to oxycontin, was writing prescriptions to various people, including some police officers in exchange for a return of oxycontin to him. Junior Pedigo just happened to be a patient there for his workers comp case. He was not involved in this scheme but because he was a patient there and because he had been given a prescription for oxycontin, he was implicated. Pedigo always maintained his innocence and that the only time he got oxycontin was for a legitimate medical purpose."

Pedigo resigned from the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department after the case came to light in August, 2009.

In a brief statement to WJLE Thursday night, Pedigo said "I'd like to say a special thanks to all my friends and family and my attorney who stood by me through this ordeal."

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