Former pharmacist gets house arrest, is fined

WARREN – Former Champion trustee and pharmacist Ken Overholt admitted Thursday that he was somewhat relieved that a resolution to his drug trafficking case is finally over.

Overholt, 58, was sentenced to 18 months of house arrest and five years of intensive supervision probation along with a maximum fine of $25,000 by Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Ronald Rice.

”I’m actually glad this is no longer hanging over my head,” said Overholt, who had agreed more than two years ago to serve the 18 months in prison for charges that he pushed painkillers through his Champion drug store.

Since March 2011, Overholt was scheduled every six months for sentencing on the docket of former Judge John M. Stuard. Each time, Overholt’s attorney, Dan Letson, furnished the court with medical reports outlining severe medical conditions that Overholt has lived with since a double lung transplant in 2007. Each time, Stuard postponed sentencing.

Rice, who took office this year after Stuard’s retirement, used Thursday to place Overholt on strict house arrest, which still allows the defendant visits to his doctor but limits medical liability on the part of the government.

”I’m glad we’re moving along with this,” Overholt told the judge, explaining that he sees a doctor at least every two weeks and undergoes pulmonary therapy three times a week. The former township trustee also suffers from diabetes, skin cancer and requires blood transfusions.

”This means only visits for medical purposes. If you stop off at the grocery store, that’s a probation violation,” Rice told Overholt. ”A violation could mean nine months in prison.”

The judge also confiscated Overholt’s driver’s license and imposed a curfew of between midnight and 7 a.m. Overholt also must pay for the electronically monitored house arrest at his Pierce Road N.W. address.

Overholt already forfeited $100,000 to authorities after pleading guilty to a series of drug trafficking charges. His business also was found guilty.

Overholt sold his Overholt’s Pharmacy in Champion in December 2009, and none of the charges contained in the bill of information that Overholt pleaded guilty to involves new owners of the business. He served four terms as a township trustee from 1982 to 1997.

The former pharmacist, who has remained free on $50,000 bond, let his license to practice lapse in 2010.

Two pharmacists who practiced in Overholt’s Pharmacy also lost their professional licenses after they were indicted on similar charges.

Both Andrea Rene Luchette, 41, of Masury, and Robert J. Gaves, 67, of Newton Falls, were placed on probation in 2011 and agreed to cooperate with assistant county prosecutor Michael Burnett in the trafficking case.

Burnett has said that the pharmacy was found to engage in a pattern of activity that the prosecutor says showed them doling out sometimes 10 times the daily maximum amounts of painkillers to customers.