published Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Ex-Bledsoe County EMS director faces federal indictment

DRUGS OBTAINED

U.S. District Court records list hundreds of vials and thousands of milligrams of drugs involved in federal charges filed against Larry A. Billingsley in a 34-count indictment.

• 775: 10 mg vials of morphine (7,750 mg)

• 100: 5 mg vials of morphine (500 mg)

• 60: 8 mg vials of morphine (480 mg)

• 575: 50 mg vials of Demerol (28,750 mg)

• 25: 25 mg vials of Demerol (625 mg)

• 50: 100 mg vials of Demerol (5,000 mg)

• 50: 100 mg vials of meperidine (5,000 mg)

• 25: 50 mg vials of meperidine (1,250 mg)

Source: U.S. District Court records

A former Bledsoe County Emergency Medical Services director has been arrested on a 34-count federal indictment that charges him with forging federal forms and a doctor's signature to get hundreds of vials of morphine and Demerol.

Larry Allan Billingsley, Bledsoe County's EMS director for more than 22 years, was arraigned Tuesday on 17 counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud and 17 counts of furnishing false information in a controlled substance record, according to documents in U.S. District Court in Winchester, Tenn.

The case was heard by U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Carter.

Morphine, a strong pain medication, is a nonsynthetic narcotic that is the principal constituent of opium. Meperidine, the other drug named in the indictment, produces similar effects and is available under the brand names Demerol and Mepergan, according to DEA drug fact sheets.

Billingsley is accused of forging documents and signatures to obtain 935 vials of morphine totaling 8,730 mg of the drug, 650 vials of Demerol totaling 34,375 mg of that drug, and 75 vials of meperidine totaling 7,250 mg of the drug, court documents state. Billingsley illegally obtained the drugs between Nov. 3, 2011, and Feb. 7, 2013.

Billingsley could not be reached at home and did not respond to a message left on his cellphone, the documents state Pikeville attorney Howard Upchurch was representing Billingsley until filing a motion Tuesday to withdraw from the case, citing his position as legal counsel for Bledsoe County government, which suffered financial losses due to Billingsley's alleged activities. A new attorney was not listed in court records on Wednesday.

Records show Billingsley was using forged signatures and putting false information on federal paperwork to get drugs in November of 2011, March, August, September, October, November and December of 2012, and in January and February of 2013. Most of the instances detailed in court records show that Billingsley got 50 to 100 vials of morphine and Demerol at a time during the period, and a combined 75 vials of meperidine on two occasions in 2012.

Billingsley resigned from his director's post in late February, citing health reasons, Bledsoe County Mayor Bobby Collier said at the time.

Collier on Wednesday said he couldn't discuss the county's financial loss at the direction of the state Comptroller of the Treasury's office.

Collier said Kendell Smith, appointed after Billingsley's resignation, later was confirmed by the County Commission and continues to serve as EMS director.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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