On Wednesday, September 27, 2018, it was announced that a former Perryville pharmacist and the owner of Perry County Food and Drug Store had been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. 44-year-old Christopher Grant Watson of Perryville was sentenced to a maximum of 120 months in prison by Judge James M. Moody. The defendant was involved in a scheme to conspire to unlawfully distribute prescription opioids from his drug store.
On October 5, 2016, the defendant pleaded guilty in conspiracy to dispense hydrocodone without an effective prescription and healthcare fraud. He also pled guilty to structuring bank account deposits in order to avoid bank reporting requirements. In July of 2014, the DEA launched a campaign to target sources of illegally diverted drugs in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
This led to a Grand Jury returning a superseding federal indictment against Watson and 27 others on May 6, 2015. Watson owned the Perry County Food and Drug store along with his father, Tommy Watson. Christopher served as the managing pharmacist at the store. The defendant sold tens of thousands of pills and other pharmaceuticals from the pharmacy after hours. He also forged prescriptions to account for missing pills and filled fraudulent prescriptions.
A pharmacy audit revealed 49,000 missing oxycodone pills and 72,000 missing hydrocodone pills. 68-year-old Tommy Watson pleaded guilty on February 1, 2017. He was sentenced to two years’ probation on August 30, 2017. Christopher Watson also received $54,000 from Medicare after billing patient accounts for high dollar pharmaceuticals that they never received.
Of the 28 defendants charged, 23 have pleaded guilty. Charges were ultimately dismissed on five defendants. Again, Christopher Grant Watson has been sentenced to 120 months in prison.