Women's correctional officer, 8 others charged in prison drug distribution ring

GRAHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Nine people, including a Department of Public Safety correctional officer, are facing charges in a statewide prison drug distribution ring, the Alamance County Sheriff's Office announced Friday.

The sheriff's office released an organizational flow chart that said Suboxone made its way from Urgent Care in Durham through Perkins' network and into the prisons.

Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said 62-year-old Samuel Lee Perkins of Burlington was the ringleader of a Suboxone distribution network that stretched across the state.

Those accused include Lauren Del Zimmerman, 31, of Cameron, who works as a correctional officer at the women's prison in Raleigh. Officials said she conspired with Perkins to deliver Suboxone.

A spokesperson for NCDPS told ABC11 on Friday night that Zimmerman has worked for the prison system since Nov. 16, 2017, and remains employed.

Zimmerman was charged with felony conspiracy to sell and deliver a Schedule III narcotic. She was given a $50,000 secured bond and has been released from jail.

"This type of criminal activity is a slap in the face to the hardworking, underpaid employees of the NC Department of Corrections who keep our communities safe from those who choose to commit serious crimes in Alamance County and our great State" Sheriff Johnson said.

Perkins faces six felony charges and a misdemeanor charge and is being held on a $300,000 secured bond.

Four inmates were also implicated in the plot.

Ashleigh Morgan, 28, from Rocky Mount, is one of several inmates serving time at women's prison accused in the scheme. Police said she also conspired with Perkins to sell the drug, a felony.

Others charged are:

  • Tyler Lee Orr, 22, of Burlington, who faces two felony charges and two misdemeanor charges.
  • Everette Gerard McCandies, 56, of Burlington. He faces two felony charges and a misdemeanor charge.
  • Allison Mae Craft, 29, of Ellenboro. She faces a felony charge. She was already serving time.
  • Julie Haskins, 30, of New Bern. She faces one felony charge and was already serving time.
  • Tracy Louise Pruitt Cochran, 46, of Eden. She was already serving time and faces two felony charges in this case.
  • Lisa Marie Harmon, 37, of Vilas. She faces one felony charge and is already serving time.

Investigators with the sheriff's office received a tip August 6 that Perkins could be involved in the drug ring. The Department of Public Safety and the SBI worked with the sheriff's office during the investigation.

The investigation continues, the sheriff's office said.
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