Cherokee County, GA Dr. Joseph L. Burton, a former county medical examiner and forensic pathologist, has been charged along with other individuals by warrants sworn to by agents of the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad (CMANS) with RICO (Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations) charges in Cherokee County related to the illegal distribution of opioid painkillers and other drugs. Multiple individuals have also been arrested on federal and state charges related to the unlawful distribution of opioids prescribed by Burton in Barrow County, Bartow County, Cobb County, Fayette County, Floyd County, Gwinnett County, Hall County and Paulding County.
This investigation by CMANS Agents was in coordination with authorities throughout the north metro area, as well as the Georgia Drug and Narcotics Agency and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and included coordinated indictments in at least eight counties and in Federal Court.
Burton and the seven other individuals are charged in a federal indictment presented by DEA, released yesterday, with conspiring to distribute and dispense controlled substances—outside of the normal course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose—from July 2015 to February 2018. Burton is also charged with ten individual counts of illegal drug distribution for specific prescriptions. Over a roughly two-year period beginning in July 2015, Dr. Burton allegedly issued over 1,100 opioid prescriptions, which amounted to over 108,000 individuals doses, including over 66,000 30mg oxycodone pills. The indictment alleges that Burton prescribed opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone, irrespective of any legitimate medical purpose and outside the normal course of professional practice.
The following individuals are charged in Cherokee County with charges related to this organization:
• Burton, Joseph Lawson
• Hunter, Jennifer
• Willis, Tiffany
• Fossett, Nancy
• Cargile, Sandy
• Cargile, Justin
• Cargile, Roy
• Morgan, Jerry
• Saye, Harold
• Tatum, David
• Jenkins, Joyce Justene
• Danner, Michelle
• Powell, Ashley
The abuse of prescription pain-killers is the root cause of heroin abuse in Cherokee County, and CMANS Agents have worked alongside our neighbors and federal partners to address this serious problem. Agents from CMANS actively pursue cases related to opioid abuse involving fraudulent prescriptions, cases of double doctoring, or, as in this case, medical professionals who violate their oath. Burton’s arrest marks the third arrest this year in Cherokee County of persons with medical connections arrested for drug charges.
The Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad is a joint task force working in Cherokee County to investigate drug related violations. Participating agencies include the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, the Canton Police Department, the Woodstock Police Department, the Holly Springs Police Department, the Ball Ground Police Department, the Cherokee County Marshal’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office for the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit, and the Georgia State Patrol. Citizens may call in tips anonymously to (770) 345-7920, or may speak to an agent by calling (678) 493-7625.
For Immediate Release
January 8, 2018
LATEST UPDATE: Public Health Delayed Openings in North Georgia Health District for Monday, January 8, 2018
North GA – ALL our health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties will now delay opening until noon today due to icy road conditions. Now, only the North Georgia Health District office in Dalton will open at 10 A.M. Updates are posted to nghd.org.
Car Seat Mini Grant Awarded to
County Health Departments in North Georgia
Buckle Up Right, Every Trip, Every Time
North Georgia – County health departments in the North Georgia Health District were awarded the 2018 Car Seat Mini-Grant by the Georgia Department of Public Health, Injury Prevention Program. Through the Mini-Grant, Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield County Health Departments and local collaborative partners work together to provide car seats and education to financially eligible families. This program is funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to help ensure Georgia’s children are safe while riding in motor vehicles.
And it works! Since 2007, the education, car seats and booster seats provided through the mini grant prevented serious injury or death and saved 344 of Georgia’s children who were involved in crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car seats reduce fatal injuries by 71 percent among infants and by 54 percent among children ages 1 to 4 years in passenger cars. Car seats offer the best protection for children in the event of a crash, and they are most effective when installed and used correctly. Nearly three out of every four car seats are not used properly, placing children at unnecessary risk.
“The Car Seat Mini-Grant helps us meet the responsibility of keeping our children safe here in North Georgia,” said Marie Smith, RN, BSN, North Georgia Health District Nursing Director. “It provides us the opportunity to work with partners in each of our communities to help protect our children from serious injuries or death in motor vehicle crashes.”
In Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties, the health departments and their collaborative partners, including county EMAs, Georgia State Patrol representatives, local fire departments and law enforcement agencies, educate parents and caregivers on how to properly install and use car seats, offer car seat inspections and provide car seats and booster seats to financially eligible families.
Through the Car Seat Mini-Grant, agencies supporting more than 130 counties are working to keep Georgia’s children safe. These programs help families get their children buckled up right, every trip, every time.
For more information about the car seat program at health departments in North Georgia, log onto www.nghd.org and click on the LOCATIONS tab to find contact information for each county health department in the North Georgia Health District. If you would like information regarding other Georgia counties involved in the program, please contact the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Child Occupant Safety Project via email at [email protected] or by calling 404-463-1487.
North Georgia – Ready to quit? You can do it for at least one day this Thursday, November 16th during the Great American Smokeout®! Every year on the third Thursday of November, many Georgians join tobacco users across the nation in giving up using tobacco and electronic cigarettes for the entire day during this Great American Smokeout® event, initiated by the American Cancer Society. Quitting for just one day is an important step toward a healthier you, especially if that one day can lead to many more.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and in Georgia. Over 11,500 Georgians die each year from tobacco-related diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Quitting tobacco and eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke are two proven ways to decrease the risk of tobacco related death and disability.
The Georgia Smokefree Air Act, passed in 2005, has reduced exposure to secondhand smoke by prohibiting smoking in all enclosed facilities, including buildings owned, leased, or operated by the State or local governing authorities.
Now, it’s your turn to reduce tobacco-related health hazards by quitting the use of tobacco and electronic cigarettes during the Great American Smokeout®.
Here in Georgia, we can help. The Georgia Tobacco Quit Line is a free resource that can help tobacco users reach their goal of quitting. The Georgia Tobacco Quit Line (1-877-270-STOP; Spanish speakers call 1-877-2NO-FUME; TTY: 1-877-777-6534 for the hearing impaired) provides counseling for Georgia tobacco users ages 13 and older. Callers speak with tobacco cessation counselors who help to develop a unique quitting plan for each person.
North Georgia Health District 1-2 of the Georgia Department of Public Health, health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counites, Drug Free Cherokee, Cherokee Focus, and the Cherokee Youth Council encourage Georgians to go tobacco-free during the Great American Smokeout®, and beyond!
North Georgia – The North Georgia Health District office in Dalton and our health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties will close early to clients and visitors on Monday, August 21st in the interest of public safety during the solar eclipse. The health departments will close at 12:00 p.m. and the district office will close at 1:00 p.m. This closing applies to all public health services in the district, including Environmental Health, WIC and Children’s Health services.
If viewing the solar eclipse, residents are urged to follow these safety precautions:
- Do not look directly at the sun
- Sunglasses do not provide sufficient protection
- Only look at the sun through an approved solar filter
- For even safer viewing, observe indirectly by projecting the sun’s image onto a blank sheet of white paper with a pinhole camera or with binoculars
For more safety information, log onto NASA’s website.
An incident this morning involving a young lady on the Sharpe Mountain Bridge of 575 could be suicide as she was found dead under the bridge.
According to Public Information Officer Lt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Dept, at 6:42 am, Cherokee County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call involving someone jumping from the Sharpe Mountain Bridge’s northbound lane on 575. As Deputies arrived they found a vehicle parked on bridge and a 35-year-old female, deceased, under the bridge. Of course, officials are not releasing the person’s name at this time as an investigation will be undertaken by the Sheriff’s Department, although currently there is no indication of foul play as a witness to the incident traveling southbound was also found. With Fire and Emergency Services on hand to aid the process, authorities did shut down one lane, the eastbound lane, to process the scene and continue their duties. However, traffic is continuing as normal during the investigation.