Eight more people in Hilton Head, SC have been accused by federal authorities of working a ring that distributed cocaine and prescription pain pills in Beaufort County, South Carolina. This bring the total number of people to 32 who are facing federal drug charges, or already pleaded guilty.
Seven Beaufort County residents in South Carolina and one from Jasper County have been added to the indictment that details the scheme to trade cocaine for various types of pain prescription drugs, including Oxycodone. Those people include Tiffany Shelton, Gregory Shelton, Philip Evers, Devon Faltus, Merryn Mascaro, Ryan Hester, Brian Baumgardner and Vince Dixon.
Coulter was indicted earlier this year, and he is facing more charges of possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, which is alleged to have occurred this past February.
Five people so far pleaded guilty to charges related to this drug ring investigation, including a doctor in the Hilton Head area named Vince Rhodes. In February, he admitted to a judge in federal court that he wrote painkiller prescriptions for patients who didn’t need them so he could get cocaine.
He is facing as much as nine years in federal prison, but he is not going to be sentenced until the other cases are settled.
Rhodes has agreed to cooperate with the federal investigation, but it is not known if the information he gave led to any new indictments.
Others who have pleaded guilty in this case include Jason Harriott, Leon Hudson, and Henry Wallace.
Police state that the DEA and law enforcement in Hilton Head acted on a tip from various pharmacies and started to investigate a high use of oxycodone in the area of Beaufort. The county sheriff’s office also is assisting with this investigation.
Rhodes began by writing these prescriptions to a few patients who did not need them. The scheme started to expand until he ended up writing prescriptions for people who his co-conspirators brought to him. He knew the pills would not go to the patients themselves.
The South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners has already suspended Rhodes’ medical license, and it is still suspended at this time.
The Sheriff’s Office of Drug Investigations helped agents with the DEA, as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The DEA noted in a statement that the Beaufort Police Department provided a lot of help over the course of this drug ring investigation, in the gathering of intelligence and evidence. This help led to the federal indictments in this case.
Rhodes could be sentenced to as much as 20 years in jail and fined over $1 million. However, the Assistant US Attorney on the case has requested that Rhodes pay $150,000 – what he earned from the illegal drug ring – and get a sentence of up to 11 years.