Charges dropped: Federal drug case takes new turn

Published 8:20 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The case against two of the six Beaufort County residents indicted last April on federal drug charges has been dismissed.
All charges against Anna Champion Moore, a former nurse anesthetist, and Lori Champion Melton, pharmacy manager of Tayloe’s Hospital Pharmacy, were dropped at a hearing yesterday at the U.S. District Court in Elizabeth City. Both had been charged with obtaining controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud and deception. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer E. Wells filed an order for dismissal of the indictment against the two women, citing “newly obtained information.”
Keith A. Williams, defense attorney for Melton, said it was the additional information the defense provided that prompted the U.S. Attorney’s office to dismiss the case at its own behest.
“The case was not worth prosecuting,” Williams said. “Lori received appropriate medicine for her medical conditions — there was nothing to prosecute.”
The case dismissal for Moore was confirmed by Moira Bitzenhofer, paralegal for Moore’s Raleigh-based defense lawyer Joseph Chesire.
An ongoing investigation by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s Diversion and Environmental Crimes unit, led to the charges last year. At the time, four others were also charged under the 260-count indictment alleging unlawful prescribing of controlled substances: Amanda Champion Bunch, a nurse practitioner, former Washington Police Department officer Justin Mixon, former State Highway Patrol trooper Kevin Dail Owens and Arron Jones, a registered nurse.
On Jan. 3, a joint motion to dismiss was filed by the defendants. The motion asserted that the prosecution neglected to demonstrate how Moore and Melton obtained the controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud and deception and that the two possessed legitimate prescriptions.
The trial date for the remaining defendants is set for Jan. 28.