Surgical assistant, acquaintance charged in drug trafficking scheme
Published 11:51 am Wednesday, August 24, 2016
By Shavonne Walker
ROWAN COUNTY — Two Rockwell women — one a surgical assistant — have been charged with drug trafficking following what authorities say was a six-year prescription fraud scheme.
On Tuesday, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office charged Renee Hale Stowe, 42, of the 200 block of Middlebrook Drive, Rockwell, and Denise Kay Furgeson, 48, of the 2600 block of Lower Stone Church Road, Rockwell.
Officials say Stowe, who was a surgical assistant for Renaissance Plastic Surgery in Concord, stole prescription pads without the knowledge of the doctor and staff, and forged prescriptions using her employer as the provider.
The prescriptions were placed in the names of multiple people including Stowe, her family and Furgeson. This investigation has been ongoing for a month and showed the fraudulent prescriptions were passed in Rowan and Cabarrus counties since 2010 for an assortment of opioid medications, officials said.
Investigators said it appears family members were unaware their names were used for prescriptions. Stowe was fired when the doctor’s office was made aware of the investigation.
“The sheriff’s office received information that Furgeson was involved in obtaining pain medications. She passed the forged prescriptions after she was getting the drugs filled at a pharmacy, then she was sharing those drugs with Renee Stowe, who was someone who was writing the prescriptions for her,” said Chief Deputy David Ramsey.
Stowe was charged with conspiring with Furgeson to traffic by possession 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams of opium; six counts of obtaining Percocet, Lortab and Norco by fraud or forgery; six counts of trafficking by possession of 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams of opium. She remains in the Rowan County jail under a $100,000 secured bond.
Furgeson was charged with conspiring with Stowe to traffic by possession of 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams of opium; six counts of obtaining Percocet by fraud/forgery; and six counts of trafficking by possession of 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams of opium. She remains in the county jail under a $250,000 secured bond.
Ramsey said initially when investigators went to the office, Stowe was there while they were trying to determine who was behind the scheme.
He said both women used and sold the pills.
Rowan investigators charged the women with six counts, but Ramsey said there are more incidents in other counties than the six charges would indicate.
“It’s a pretty involved investigation,” he said.
Ramsey said the women are looking at some serious prison time, if convicted, based on the fact that the drugs are opioids.
On April 9, 2015, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Southern Piedmont District and their Clandestine Laboratory Response Team served a state search warrant at Furgeson’s residence and discovered a meth lab. Two people in the residence were charged, but Furgeson was not. That matter is still pending in Rowan County Superior Court, investigators said.