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Ringleader in Georgia prescription drug conspiracy sentenced to federal prison

The leader of a conspiracy that used forged prescriptions to obtain and sell large amounts of highly addictive opioids has been sentenced to federal prison.

Raheem Hardy, 29, of Decatur, Ga., was sentenced to 55 months in prison after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Oxycodone, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker also ordered Hardy to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

“By forging wholesale numbers of fake prescriptions, Raheem Hardy poured fuel on the raging fires of opioid addiction,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “The teamwork of our law enforcement partners brought this scheme to an end, and Hardy is being held accountable.”

As described in court documents and testimony, Hardy created forged prescriptions for drugs, including the opioid pain medication Oxycodone, using the names and DEA registration numbers of at least six physicians. He then sold the paper prescriptions to others in the conspiracy who filled the prescriptions and sold the drugs to users.  The scheme crossed Georgia into South Carolina and Alabama, as conspirators filled or attempted to fill prescriptions in those states. The conspiracy resulted in the unlawful acquisition and distribution of more than 4,000 pills.

The case originated in December 2019 in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad in Columbia, S.C., when fraudulent prescriptions were presented to multiple pharmacies in the area.  In April 2020, a pharmacist in Savannah raised an alarm when she questioned the authenticity of a conspirator’s prescription for Oxycodone and contacted the Savannah Police Department and the DEA Savannah Tactical Diversion Squad. A February 2021 indictment alleged Hardy and nine co-conspirators filled at least several dozen fraudulent prescriptions across Georgia to procure thousands of pills.

Six other defendants have pled guilty and been sentenced to incarceration.  Three defendants are awaiting trial and are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

“Although these pills came from legitimate pharmacies, the prescriptions were fake,” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. “Raheem Hardy and his accomplices are not licensed medical professionals, and had no business filling prescriptions for these highly sought after pills. After this sentencing, other criminals have been put on notice that these illicit activities will lead to significant time behind bars.”

The case was investigated by the DEA Tactical Diversion Squads in Savannah and Columbia, S.C.; the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team; the Pooler Police Department; and the Savannah Police Department, with assistance from South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, and prosecuted for the United States by Southern District of Georgia Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew A. Josephson and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Coordinator Marcela C. Mateo.

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