Pubdate: Wed, 06 Aug 2008
Source: Fayetteville Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2008 Fayetteville Observer
Author: Deuce Niven
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)


WHITEVILLE - Two state prison guards in Columbus County have resigned
after being charged with trafficking in prescription medication.
Lawrence Patrick Norris, 29, of Old Cribb Town Road in Chadbourn, and
John Wesley Batten, 32, of Whitehall Road in Whiteville, are charged
with trafficking in opium or heroin by possession of Percocet tablets
by using forged prescriptions. Norris is charged with three counts
involving incidents on three dates. Batten is charged with one count.
Both men surrendered to authorities.

There is no indication that either man was conducting any drug
business inside prison, said Keith Acree, the public affairs director
for the state Department of Correction.

Norris is in the Columbus County Jail with bail set at $100,000.
Batten was released on a $50,000 bond.

Warrants were obtained by Kevin Norris, a drug detective with the
Sheriff's Office. He is not related to Patrick Norris.

The detective said Patrick Norris obtained 90 Percocet tablets on
March 4 and Jan. 31 from Dameron Drugs in Tabor City and on Jan. 25
from Rite Aid in Whiteville.

Batten's charge is from a Jan. 22 transaction at CVS in Whiteville,
the detective said.

The four prescriptions cost $10 each because they were obtained
through the guards' State Employee health insurance plan. The pills
are usually $65 or more, Norris said.

Batten had been employed by the Department of Correction since August
2000. He was listed as a correctional sergeant at the new Tabor
Correctional Institution in Tabor City prior to his arrest, Acree
said. He previously served as a correctional officer at the Columbus
Correctional Institution in the town of Brunswick. His salary was
listed at $31,207. Norris had been a correctional officer at Columbus
Correctional since September 1999. His salary was listed as $30,565.
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