by Max Brantley
The conspiracy primarily operated in Lonoke, White, and Pulaski counties. On May 18, 2015, the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office took Dr. Johns into custody charging him with 187 counts of violating the Arkansas controlled substances act, a class C state felony. The federal indictment later charged Dr. Johns and 18 others in a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. Dr. Johns was charged in six additional counts of illegal distribution of oxycodone which have been dismissed by the United States as part of the plea agreement.Johns wrote prescriptions without examining people in names provided by co-conspirators. He sold the prescriptions for $500 each. After they were filled, the conspirators sold pills for $30 each. Trials are still scheduled for some defendants.
This investigation began in November 2014 when Lonoke County Sheriff’s detectives responded to an opioid overdose death of an individual outside Cabot. The Sheriff’s Office solicited the assistance of the DEA, and the agencies began a joint investigation to determine the source of the oxycodone which led to the overdose. The investigation determined that 187 fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone written by Dr. Johns had been filled and distributed since July 2014 in Lonoke County alone. The
prescriptions totaled approximately 16,830 oxycodone pills with a street value of $504,900. A total of 38 individuals associated with Dr. Johns were charged with violating the Arkansas controlled substances act in Lonoke County Circuit Court. To date, 17 of those individuals have entered guilty pleas.