LANCASTER -- A man who helped his brother operate a prescription-drug ring that accrued $50,000 a month could spend up to 48 months in prison or be put on probation.
Earnest Fox, 48, of Sugar Grove, is the last of six to be sentenced for his role in the prescription-drug ring, which brought in approximately 20,000 prescriptions in two years.
He was to be sentenced Monday in Fairfield County Common Pleas Court, but Judge Richard Berens said the court will determine at a later date whether Fox will face prison time or probation.
Fox's defense attorney, James Linehan, said he feels Fox is a good candidate for community control, or probation.
I'm enthusiastic that (Berens) did not incarcerate him today, Linehan said after the hearing. I don't feel he needs to be incarcerated. He has no prior offenses.
During the hearing, Linehan also said that Fox was not significantly involved in the drug ring, has had no problems with the probation department and has cooperated with the court.
That cooperation includes Fox agreeing to testify against his brother, Donald Fox, who law-enforcement officials say was the group's ringleader.
Fox was sentenced April 20 to 12 years in prison -- seven of them suspended -- for his role in orchestrating the ring.
Earnest Fox was arrested shortly after his brother was picked up by police last June. At that time, he was being detained in Nelsonville on six counts of deception to obtain a dangerous drug. He pleaded guilty March 2 to three felony drug charges.
According to authorities, the Fox brothers worked with several others who traveled from Fairfield County to Hollywood, Fla., to obtain doctors' prescriptions.
Doctors at a pain clinic signed off on those prescriptions for mainly opiates, law-enforcement officials said. After arriving back in Fairfield County, the individuals would fill the prescriptions and sell the drugs throughout the area.
William Padgett, an agent from the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, said Ohio pharmacists became concerned about the increasing number of Florida-based prescriptions they filled and tipped the Board of Pharmacy off to the problem.
In March 2009, Padgett sent out 13,000 e-mails to pharmacists living in Ohio, asking them to contact a Board of Pharmacy agent with any information about prescriptions for certain painkillers coming out of Florida.
The response was alarming, resulting in more than 300 calls within the first three days, authorities said. From there, the board worked with the Fairfield-Hocking Major Crimes Unit and Fairfield County Prosecutor's Office to investigate and prosecute the members of the drug ring.
JUNE 8, 2010