Investigators with the Lake County Narcotics Agency arrested five people they say are connected to a prescription drug ring.
Sergeant Chris Begley says 44-year-old Matthew Winegord of Madison Township was arrested after investigators witnessed him fill his prescription of Oxycodone at the Walgreen’s on Mentor Avenue in Mentor on Oct. 20, then sell 90 pills.
Begley says Winegord got in a car and sold 30 of the pills to the driver, 24-year-old Matthew Judd of Madison Township for nearly $500.
Wingord then got into another car with 21-year-old Tiffany Gunter of Chardon and 21-year-Eilee Parcel of Chardon, according to Begley.
Begley says Winegord sold them 60 pills valued at more than $900.
“There are some more people we plan on arresting. At this point the investigation is ongoing, but these are the first five we’ve arrested out of this ring,” said Begley.
The investigation crossed into Geauga County where Begley says Gunter admitted to selling her pills in the Chardon area.
Gunter has been charged with felony trafficking while Parcel was charged with felony aggravated possession.
Judd was also charged with aggravated possession.
Winegord was charged with felony trafficking and deception to obtain a dangerous drug.
His girlfriend, 32-year-old Krystal Baxter, was charged with complicity.
Dr. Nancy Rodway serves as Medical Director for the Lake County Health District. She says while physicians are getting better at recognizing red flags when prescribing strong pain medication, there will be some cases that fall through the cracks.
“Doctors are meant to be our patient’s advocates and doctors are meant to heal and so that conversation can be utterly difficult and you want to give the patient the benefit of the doubt, but the benefit of the doubt is also saving their life at times,” said Rodway.
Begley says Lake County averages about 30 deaths a year from prescription drug overdoses and he’s confident these arrests could have prevented even more.
“They might as well be selling guns because these particular narcotics in this case are so powerful. We could have had many people die,” said Begley.
Begley adds the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected.