Former pharmacy owner pleads guilty


By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

WARREN

Kenneth Overholt Jr., former owner of Overholt’s Champion Pharmacy, pleaded guilty Thursday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to five counts of aggravated drug trafficking for filling thousands of prescriptions written by a now-deceased Middlefield physician.

Overholt, who his attorney says is extremely ill with a chronic lung condition, has agreed to serve 18 months in prison on the five felony charges if he is healthy enough for prison. He is free on $50,000 bond.

Overholt, 56, lives on Pierce Road in Champion and was a Champion Township trustee from 1982 to 1997.

Overholt, as corporate agent for his former Mahoning Avenue pharmacy, also pleaded guilty to five drug-trafficking charges brought against the pharmacy and forfeited $100,000 in drug proceeds to the state Thursday.

Overholt, who sold the pharmacy Jan. 1, 2010, was convicted of filling thousands of prescriptions in 2007 and 2008 that were written by Dr. Peter Franklin, 73, of Bainbridge Township, Geauga County, who ran a pain-management clinic in Middlefield.

Dr. Franklin’s wife, Sandra, killed Dr. Franklin during an argument in August 2009.

Two pharmacists who worked for Overholt, Andrea Luchette and Robert Gaves, both pleaded guilty last week to five counts of complicity to deception to obtain a dangerous drug in the case and will be sentenced later.

Mike Burnett, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor, said the charges against Luchette and Gaves were filed because they failed in their duty to protect consumers by filling the prescriptions.

Burnett said the prescriptions filled by all three pharmacists were for amounts of dangerous drugs sometimes as much as 10 times the normal daily amount and were frequently purchased with cash.

Overholt will undergo a presentence investigation by the Trumbull County Adult Probation Department and will provide medical records that will be used to determine whether he is well enough to report to prison.

Prosecutors have the right to seek an independent medical evaluation if records provided indicate that Overholt cannot begin his prison sentence “within a reasonable time,” court documents say.

The case was investigated by the Trumbull Ashtabula Law Enforcement Task Force and the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, which has begun administrative proceedings against all three pharmacists involved.

Overholt failed to renew his pharmacy license last year.

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