UPDATE: Addiction Counselor Pleads Guilty to Drug Trafficking

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UPDATE 6/16/15 .
POMEROY, Ohio (WSAZ) – An addiction counselor charged with selling drugs to an undercover officer has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

Roberta Payne, 52, of Cheshire, was sentenced after pleading guilty Monday to two counts of drug trafficking during a hearing in Meigs County Common Pleas Court.

In January, a grand jury indicted Payne on 8 counts of drug trafficking and 5 counts of drug possession. As part of her plea deal, the possession counts and six of the trafficking counts were dropped.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office said Payne was arrested after she sold more than 2,000 morphine pills and 30 milligrams of liquid morphine to an undercover agent

Court documents showed the undercover sale happened at a "Park and Ride" in Meigs County. The drugs had an estimated street value of $36,000. Investigators have not said how Payne got the pills.

Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood said the investigation was sparked by a tip saying Payne tried to sell morphine to a client she'd worked with.

Investigators said they believe Payne was selling the pills to make money.

Payne was employed as an addiction counselor at Medical Services Options in Gallipolis according to the owner, Dr. Nicholas Landry.



UPDATE 1/29/15 @ 2:45 p.m.
POMEROY, Ohio (WSAZ) – The case against a Southern Ohio drug counselor charged with drug trafficking is now headed for grand jury consideration, according to court officials.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office said Roberta Payne, 52, of Cheshire, sold more than 2,000 morphine pills and 30 milligrams of liquid morphine to an undercover agent. She was arrested earlier this month.

Court documents showed the undercover sale happened at a "Park and Ride" in Meigs County. The drugs had an estimated street value of $36,000. Investigators have not said how Payne got the pills.

Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood said the investigation was sparked by a tip saying Payne tried to sell morphine to a client she'd worked with.

Investigators said they believe Payne was selling the pills to make money.

Payne was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing Thursday morning, but that hearing was cancelled.

She has pleaded not guilty to the charge. Her bond was set at $250,000.

According to Sheriff Keith Wood, Payne is still in jail.

Keep clicking on the WSAZ app and WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 1/21/15 @ 7:13 p.m.
POMEROY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- We are tracking new information in the investigation of a Southern Ohio drug counselor accused of breaking a sacred trust.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office said Roberta Payne, a drug addiction counselor in Gallia County, sold more than 2,000 morphine pills and 30 milligrams of liquid morphine to an undercover agent.

Payne is behind bars in Middleport, Ohio, on several drug-related charges.

New court documents show the undercover sale leading to Payne's arrest happened Friday at a "Park and Ride."

It's a case investigators call a shock: Roberta Payne, a drug addiction counselor, caught red-handed selling different types of morphine to an undercover agent.

"For somebody in a position like that, to take advantage not only of her clients but of the system that she's part of, it's really a failure on her part," Gallipolis Police Chief Clinton Patterson said.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office said Payne worked as an addiction counselor in Gallipolis.

We spoke with her boss, a physician who runs the Gallia Family Practice.

He described the case as a shock himself and said he has no idea where she would've gotten the pills.

Payne's boss told us while the drug charges are all still allegations, Payne would not be allowed to work during the investigation, even if she made her bond.

Investigators said they are also checking out how Payne got the pills.

"It was about 2,000 pills, and total around $36,000 value, street value in morphine," Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood said.

Wood said the investigation was sparked by a tip saying Payne tried to sell morphine to a client she'd worked with.

He said the undercover deal came after three months of follow-up work and went down Friday at a "Park and Ride" near Meigs High School.

"That was a sacred line that was crossed that affects somebody that they're helping, so it bothers me a lot," Wood said.

The Gallia-Meigs Drug Task Force is calling this arrest a success, but also sad, adding there is no longer a typical drug dealer.

"There's just a lot of people looking for that quick buck, unfortunately they're destroying and damaging lives and families as it goes along," Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning said.

We also checked into Payne's criminal history in Meigs County. It revealed there was only a traffic violation in 1991.

Investigators said they believe Payne was selling the pills to make money.

Her bond is set at $250,000.

She's set to be back in court next Thursday.

Keep clicking on the WSAZ app and WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



ORIGINAL STORY 1/20/15 @ 3:12 p.m.
POMEROY, Ohio (WSAZ) – Members of the Major Crimes Task Force of Gallia and Meigs Counties said Tuesday that they have arrested an addiction counselor for selling drugs to an undercover officer.

Roberta Payne, 52, of Cheshire, was charged with aggravated trafficking in drugs.

The Ohio Attorney General said Payne was arrested Friday evening in Pomeroy after she allegedly sold more than 2,000 morphine pills and 30 milligrams of liquid morphine to the undercover officer.

The drugs have a street value of more than $36,000.

Payne is employed as an addiction counselor at Medical Services Options in Gallipolis. The owner, Dr. Nicholas Landry, told WSAZ that he is shocked the by the allegations and was not aware of the her arrest.

The AG said they began investigating her after receiving a tip that she had offered to sell morphine to a drug counseling client.

"This case is shocking," said Meigs County Prosecutor Colleen Williams. "An addiction counselor knows first-hand the effects drugs have on people, and Ms. Payne is attempting to make money preying on the very people she should be helping."

"The action taken by the task force, with the support from the Attorney General's Office, proves that we have zero tolerance for those trafficking drugs in our backyards," said Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood.

"What is particularly disappointing about this is that a person who has been placed in a position of trust has apparently abused that trust by using her job to further illegal activities which are counterproductive to her position," said Gallipolis Police Chief Clinton Patterson.

Payne was arraigned on the charge in Meigs County Court Tuesday afternoon. Her bond was set at $250,000/ 10% Cash.
She will be back in court next week.



 
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