3 in Upstate sentenced in oxycodone conspiracy

08/20/2014 6:33 PM

08/20/2014 6:35 PM

Three members of an Upstate conspiracy to distribute the narcotic painkiller oxycodone were sentenced in federal court Wednesday.

Lance C. Tew, 26, Jessica R. Hollingsworth, 24, and Mary Virginia Merritt, 42, pleaded guilty to charges that they operated an elaborate conspiracy to obtain the Schedule II narcotic, oxycodone, by creating fake prescriptions and recruiting people - often paying them in pills - to get the prescriptions filled at pharmacies throughout the Upstate and in western North Carolina.

The operation unraveled January 15, 2013 when Hollingsworth and Tew were arrested trying to pass one of the fake prescriptions at a CVS in York County. A rental car that Tew was driving was searched and investigators turned up cash, pills, fake IDs, blank prescriptions and bogus computer-generated prescriptions. Merritt used her computer skills to create the fake prescriptions, US Attorney Bill Nettles said in a news release. The conspirators were passing at least one fake prescription per day.

Depending on the strength, oxycodone can sell from $5 to $80 per pill on the street compared to $1.24 to $6 retail.

Lance Tew of Greer was sentenced to 8.3 years, Jessica Hollinsworth of Taylors was sentenced to 4 years and Mary Merritt, of Greer, was sentenced to 5 years, Nettles said.

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