By Jeremy Pittari, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Several weeks of investigation led to the arrest of a suspected distributor of large amounts of prescription medication and resulted in another drug charge against the former board president of the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce.
Tuesday afternoon the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department began another round of surveillance on the home of 41-year-old Johnny R. Baker at 10 Stinger Lane, said Chief Investigator Donnie Saucier. Tuesday’s surveillance was part of an ongoing, several-weeks-long investigation into community complaints that Baker was selling large amounts of prescription medication from his home, the chief investigator said. The surveillance also included the use of an undercover operative who was able to purchase Roxycodone from Baker, Saucier said.
Narcotics investigators saw a vehicle pull up to Baker’s home during Tuesday’s surveillance and stay for a short while before leaving again, Saucier said. Investigators followed the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop on it for a no tag violation, Saucier said. The investigators found 37-year-old Steven R. Wood of 602 Deason Rd., behind the wheel, Saucier said. A pat down of Wood uncovered one Roxycodone in Wood’s pocket, prompting a search of his vehicle where investigators found two more of the pills on the passenger side floorboard, Saucier said.
Interviews and investigation determined Wood had just purchased the pills at Baker’s home, the chief investigator said. Wood was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, Saucier said.
According to an earlier story in the Picayune Item, Wood was arrested on Sept. 10, by the Picayune Police Department for possession of methamphetamine. Wood was the former board president of the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce before he was relieved of that responsibility for excessive board meeting absences, according to the earlier story.
Based on evidence collected during Wood’s arrest on Tuesday and the previous weeks of surveillance, the department secured a search warrant for Baker’s home, Saucier said. When they arrived at his home with the warrant in hand, they met with Baker and saw him attempt to discard three grams of methamphetamine from his pocket, Saucier said. Upon spotting the attempt, the officers recovered the drug, Saucier said.
Two other people were in the home at the time of the search, 33-year-old Corbit J. Spiers of 10 Majice Oak Lane, Carriere, and 48-year-old Valuria Oglesbee of 13 Browning Circle, Saucier said. A search of the interior of the home uncovered $584 in cash, 250 pills of Roxycodone, 53 Methadone pills and 103 Lortabs, the chief investigator said. Saucier said Baker did not have a prescription for any of those medications.
Baker was charged with two counts of felony possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute for the Roxycodone and Methadone, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute for the Lortabs, possession of methamphetamine, and sale of a controlled substance, Saucier said.
Investigation and interviews, combined with documentation kept at the home by Baker, appeared to show Spiers and Oglesbee were both at his home with the intent to purchase illegal prescription medication, Saucier said. Both Spiers and Oglesbee were charged with felony conspiracy to possess a controlled substance, the chief investigator said.
As the search of the home continued, a text came through Wood’s phone from 34-year-old James E. Snider of 202 Coleman Rd., McNeill, asking Wood to sell him two Roxycodone pills, Saucier said. Since investigators had possession of Wood’s phone, they replied to Snider’s text, requesting he come to Baker’s home to get the pills, the chief investigator said. Snider replied that he would be there within five minutes, Saucier said.
When he arrived, Snider was met by narcotics investigators, and after an interview and investigation, the investigators determined Snider was attempting to purchase pills from Wood, the chief investigator said. Snider had several children in his vehicle at the time, all under the age of 18, Saucier said. Snider was charged with felony conspiracy to possess a controlled substance and a family member was called to take the children home, Saucier said.
Another suspect also came to Baker’s home during the search, 40-year-old Justin L. Mayer of 413 Night Hawk Dr., Slidell, La., Saucier said.
Saucier said instead of being greeted by Baker, Mayer was greeted by narcotics officers who, through interviews and investigation, determined Mayer also was there to purchase Roxycodone from Baker. Text messages found in Mayer’s phone added to the evidence against him, leading to Mayer being charged with felony conspiracy to possess a controlled substance, Saucier said.
For the third time during the narcotics investigators’ search, another suspect pulled up to Baker’s home, Saucier said. This time the person was 48-year-old Marty M. Moseley of 49 Larow Dr., Carriere, Saucier said. Moseley was also was greeted by narcotics investigators, and through interviews and investigation, they determined Moseley intended to purchase Roxycodone and methamphetamine from Baker, Saucier said. Moseley was charged with felony conspiracy to possess a controlled substance, the chief investigator said.
The entire operation on Tuesday lasted from about 2 to 8 p.m., Saucier said.
So far, the evidence collected shows Baker was a large distributor of illegal prescription medication, possibly selling as many as 3,000 pills per month, Saucier said. The street value of the narcotics recovered from Baker’s home is estimated to more than $8,000, the chief investigator said.
“We also have evidence of who his customers were and who his sources were. The investigation is far from over. I am anticipating the arrest of his customers and suppliers in the near future,” Saucier said. “Mr. Baker was a good record keeper, just a very sorry dope dealer.”