• 70°

Grand jury returns 55 indictments

Drug-related cases continued to get attention as the LincolnCounty Grand Jury convened for a short two-day term earlier thisweek, prosecutors said.

“There was an unusually large number of drug cases,” saidDistrict Attorney Danny Smith following the term that ended lateTuesday afternoon. “We devoted a full day to drug cases.”

Overall, 55 new indictments were issued during the term,according to the grand jury’s interim report to Judge KeithStarrett.

Smith said the drug cases were an “unfortunate fact of life.”With law enforcement’s assistance, he said his office isaggressively prosecuting those cases.

Smith and Assistant District Attorney Brandon Frazier alluded toa serious problem with prescription drug fraud.

“We’re beginning to see a large number of OxyContin cases,”Smith said.

OxyContin is a prescription pain killer that can be dissolvedand provides a more intense buzz than some illegal drugs.

Frazier recalled four cases of drug fraud in the last month. Hesaid obtaining prescription drugs illegally and selling the pillsis the same as selling cocaine or some other controlledsubstance.

Regarding other cases heard by the grand jury, Smith was glad tosee that the number of violent crimes was low,

“Thankfully, we’re not seeing the number of violent crimes thatwe’re seeing in some of the other counties,” Smith said.

Indictments are not public record until the accused is servedwith court papers. Sheriff Lynn Boyte said his department is in theprocess getting indictments from the circuit clerk’s office andthen contacting those people who need to be served.

Arraignments for those people indicted this week are set forApril 1 before Starrett.

In other action during the term, the grand jury voted to notissue an indictment in six cases, returned one case to a lowercourt for further disposition and continued four cases for furtherinvestigation. Grand jurors heard testimony from 42 witnesses overthe two days.

The grand jury is scheduled to return April 16.