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Decatur 'ringleader' sentenced in tri-state prescription drug conspiracy

Six other defendants have also been sentenced, with another three suspects still awaiting trial.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A conspiracy to sell large amounts of highly addictive opioids across multiple states, including Georgia, has come to an end following a report from the Department of Justice. Several others are now facing prison time after the arrest and conviction of a Decatur man that investigators are calling the operation's ringleader.

In Dec. 2019, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad began an investigation in Columbia, South Carolina. In April 2020, a pharmacist in Savannah, Georgia contacted authorities after questioning the authenticity of a prescription for Oxycodone. A Feb. 2021 indictment later claimed that Raheem Hardy, of Decatur, Ga., and nine co-conspirators filled dozens of fraudulent prescriptions across the state of Georgia. The scheme ultimately stretched across Alabama and South Carolina as well, the Department of Justice said in a press release.

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

Hardy has been sentenced to 55 months in prison after pleading guilty to the Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Oxycodone, according to authorities. Hardy will also serve three years of supervised release following his prison term. Six of Hardy's co-conspirators have also been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty. Three suspects are also awaiting trial in connection to the case.

"After this sentencing, other criminals have been put on notice that these illicit activities will lead to significant time behind bars.” Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division, said.

Hardy forged prescriptions for drugs, such as the opioid pain reliever Oxycodone, after obtaining the names and DEA registrations of at least six different physicians. After selling prescriptions to other conspirators, Hardy's forgeries ultimately played a role in the illegal distribution of over 4,000 pills, the Department of Justice said.